Editorial

Planning crucial to historic district

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

One of the aims of a residential historic district is to preserve the character of a neighborhood and protect it from whims that could destroy the essential elements that make an area worth preserving.

To that end, the Cape Girardeau Historic Preservation Commission has been working on guidelines for the city's first residential district. Several property owners in the district have raised concerns about proposed restrictions. Some of the concerns are practical, while others display a level of mistrust regarding the control such a district would have.

Before a historic district can be established, it must be reviewed by the city's planning and zoning commission. The final say rests with the city council, which would hold two public hearings.

Now is the time to sort out the differences of opinion regarding the proposed district. Concerns can be discussed with P&Z members and city council members during the review process.

Because this is the city's first effort to create a residential historic district, there is a certain amount of pressure to do it right. Other districts may be formed in the future, and it would be good to have a sound, working model in place. It would seem prudent to avoid the fiasco the city's first roundabout generated.

Roundabouts and historic districts have their supporters and their opponents. In general, both are good ideas that can too easily succumb to poor upfront planning.

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