Public hearing held on design standards
by Chris Norwood
Feb 01, 2014 | 938 views |  0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
TALLADEGA - City manager Brian Muenger said he was pleasantly surprised with the high turnout Thursday night for a public hearing regarding design standards for buildings around the historic courthouse square.

“Aside from the city staff members, I’d say there were probably 30 plus people there, including residents, business owners, members of the Historic Preservation Commission and Silk Stocking District residents. Especially with the weather we had this week, it was a very impressive turnout.”

Speakers included University of Alabama Birmingham history and historic preservation professor Pamela King and community planners Larry Watts and Brandon Bias. Thursday’s meeting was a kickoff, which will be followed by an online visual preference survey (probably up in the next two weeks or so), workshop and training sessions with the HPC (including possible store-front workshops), guideline reviews and an illustrated handbook available sometime this summer.

“The meeting started out with a statement about the purpose of preservation, some of the area’s assets from a design standpoint, historic tax credits, funding opportunities, parking and pedestrian experiences. There were some questions about whether structural integrity would be covered, which it won’t be. There was also some discussion about return on investment and absentee property owners.”

Further discussions will address which specific historic periods will be preserved (while the oldest buildings date back to the 19th century, many others are far more modern), as well as flexibility on signage and materials requirements.

“I don’t think the city is too rigid in that regard, but we will need to discuss things like slate versus rubber slate,” Muenger said.

In addition to the planned store front meetings, future meetings may also be held at the Greater Talladega Area Chamber of Commerce Building or at the Kenwin Building or other locations on the square. Regardless of the location, the purpose of the meetings will be to allow business owners to have questions and concerns answered on a one-on-one basis, which will likely be more comfortable than raising the same concerns in front of 40 people.

The online survey portion of the plan will be launched by the engineering firm of Goodwin, Mills and Caywood, and there will also be the option of feedback through email, especially for out-of-state business owners, Muenger said.

Contact Chris Norwood at cnorwood@dailyhome.com.