Grassroots issues face commission June 8

Historic City News has learned that the Plaza, historic district architectural style, and the Fish Island dock are likely candidates for our City Commission’s regular meeting June 8.

Plaza – mixed signals

“We have conflicting court orders to sort out,” City Atty. Ron Brown said. “Our County Court previously ruled we have to be content-neutral, all or nothing” in allowing artist and commercial uses of public spaces. “Now a federal court ruled the visual artists who sued us can use the Plaza.”

It will be some ten months before the next federal hearing March 1, 2010. In the meantime, “We can do something,” Brown said. “We can revise our ordinances. But until that happens, our policemen’s hands are tied. Police have been individually sued in other cities for missteps, and we’re not going to risk that. We need commission guidance on this.”

What’s our historic style?

Four commissioners will tackle the question of whether new construction in our historic district should be colonial or more modern. Commissioner Don Crichlow has taken himself out of the debate – he’s the architect for a proposed replica “Bishop’s Building” that stood at St. George Street and Cathedral Place from 1897 to the early 1960s.

They heard passionate pleas for colonial style last month, but are looking at 20th century style in those blocks from Hypolita to St. George. The June 8 public hearing is a continuation of April’s hearing.

Fish Island – modifications?

Commissioners have had several shade meetings – allowed by our Sunshine Law when dealing with lawsuits – to work toward a compromise with the Fish Island developer. He sued our city for damages after denial of his plan for a 1,200-foot walkway and 100-slip dock. Right now there’s no modification proposal, but City Atty. Brown is hopeful something might be ready for the June 8 meeting.

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