City council member wants to review historic preservation policies

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COLUMBIA - A Columbia City Council member wants the Historic Preservation Commission to review its policies on how to protect historic buildings.

Ian Thomas made the proposal to the city council at its April 20 meeting, but a discussion is on the commission's Tuesday agenda

Thomas says he would "like HPC to research policy strategies used by other cities to preserve historic structures and make recommendations to council."

Paul Prevo, a member of the Historic Preservation Commission, says development and preservation are always hot topics in Columbia, especially when historic properties could be demolished.

"Ian's proposal is that we review how the Historic Preservation Commission addresses potential tear-downs or removals of historic buildings,"  Pevo said. "Of course we've got to look at that with a strong balance of personal property rights as well. So there's going to be, I'm sure, pretty active discussion on his proposal and what we'll be doing over the next few months to review it."

There are currently 148 Notable Historic Properties in Columbia, but the distinction doesn't prevent buildings from being demolished or renovated. 

"It doesn't necessarily mean that they can't be torn down," Prevo said, "but what it does mean is 'hey we recognize that this is part of Columbia's history,' and it just deserves special notation."

Columbia resident Glenda Mckinney said she's concerned Columbia could lose its personality if historic buildings aren't more carefully protected.

"The historical part of town makes the character of the town," Mckinney said. 

She said she's worried new development, like the changes to Shakespeare's on Ninth Street, will change both the look and feel of downtown Columbia.

"Downtown near campus...that's Shakespeare's, you know? Why take it out?" Mckinney said.

Prevo said there were similar concerns a few years ago when the city council approved the demolition of the Niedermeyer House.

The Historic Preservation Commission meets Tuesday night at 7.