County hesitates on historical district plan

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

If the current Cape Girardeau County Commission has shown anything, it's a resolve to be in charge of its own property.

At its regular meeting on Monday, the county commission hedged on committing the courthouse to a proposed historical district in Jackson.

Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones said he was hesitant on becoming involved because he didn't want the county to have to "bow down on bended knee" whenever repairs needed to be made to the facilities.

He said the county wanted the freedom to make repairs as needed without permission or inspection by historical overseers.

Tom Strickland, a Jackson merchant spearheading the historical district movement, explained that the county wouldn't have to conform to higher restrictions unless it accepted state or federal tax breaks to renovate the structure.

The historical district designation means that buildings within the district are eligible for tax breaks if the building owners restore the building to its historic appearance.

Strickland said historical consultants say the owners of Jones Pharmacy and Harold's Jewelry will not be eligible for the district unless the courthouse is included. The district has to be connected and because the city hall on the corner is too new to be considered historic, the only way to connect the two buildings on Barton Street is via the courthouse.

Jones didn't say that the county wouldn't join the district, but he asked Strickland to provide the county with more information. He said he would like to see what the county's requirements would be if the commission elected not to receive any tax credits.

Earlier this year, the county had a dispute with the city of Jackson over the city's authority to inspect construction projects. After a couple rounds of public disagreement, the two sides settled that dispute.

The county let the city see some rough plans and the city allowed the county to complete the rest room facility in Klaus Park. As a result of that dispute, city and county officials changed their policy on the way communication was relayed between the two entities.

bmiller@semissourian.com

243-6635

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