If things go according to Hoyle, in 30 more days, notices will have gone out to residents in the proposed Buena Vista Heights Local Historic District, informing them of the designation. Public notices will have run for three days, telling people about a public hearing on the proposal.
And the Athens Clarke County Commission will at last have a map and a plan for protecting the historic neighborhood to consider. That's something many residents have for years been requesting. The measure is expected to appear on the Mayor's agenda for March.
"We're not telling people what to do," said Deborah Stanley, who has lived in the Buena Vista area 10 years. "We're trying to stop outside interests from ruining our neighborhood."
Last fall, when the Athens Clarke County Commission and Mayor discussed creating the Buena Vista Heights Local Historic District, the work session turned, er, lively. Many longtime residents, who live in the modest homes--some dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries--on bigger lots, squared off, verbally, against other property owners, developers and a few newcomers.
Developers wanted to keep building houses in the neighborhood, without the restrictions that come with a historic designation. With the opening of UGA's Health Sciences Campus, there are some people of means who wish to live close to where they work and who want a spacious, modern home, not a cottage or bungalow.
The longtimers were concerned at the number of smaller houses that are being bought, torn down and replaced with large structures that encompass most of the lots on which they sit. If you drive the neighborhood--along Park, Yonah, Boulevard Heights, Satula, Easy and Nantahala Extension--you will see smaller houses, valued at less than $100,000, near ones that sold for $400,000 to $500,000.
"We've got a demographic incongruity," said artist Marianne Parr. She has lived on Buena Vista more than 30 years. "I'm hopeful it's going to work this time. There have been a lot of false starts and stops."
Commissioner Kelly Girtz is working with Amy Kissane of the Athens Clarke Heritage Foundation to draw a district that is "manageable and sustainable," he said. Instead of including the 76 parcels on the map drawn by the Historic Presevation Commission, Girtz's map has only 50 parcels.
He said it wasn't the end of the story for the historic district, it was a new chapter.