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City Council Approves Formation of Historic Preservation Commission
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The Chillicothe City Council approved the appointment of five members to the newly formed Historic Preservation Commission. Those members will serve staggered terms.

For a one year term: Pam Clingerman
For two year terms: Patrice Robertson and Kirsten Mouton
And for three year terms: Rodney Mouton and Debbie Jenkins

There were also three ex-officio members appointed. They are 2nd Ward Councilman Wayne Cunningham, Codes Director Tammi Veneman, and from Planning and Zoning, Dan Rattliff.

City Administrator Darin Chappell says this is an Advisory Commission. The commission will also help to identify opportunities for grant funding for the historic preservation activities.

City Board Backs Historic Overlay District
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A proposal to establish a historic overlay district in downtown Chillicothe to bolster preservation funding opportunities received unanimous approval from the city's Planning and Zoning board and will be considered for council approval on Monday, January 29. The board conducted a public hearing Tuesday evening at which time several property owners spoke in favor of the designation, and no one spoke in opposition. If approved by the council, the ordinance will open up the city and property owners within the historic district to grant opportunities for building renovations, preservation plans, hands-on training, and more. A couple of revisions to the proposed ordinance were made just prior to the hearing. The changes emphasized that projects within the historic district would be voluntary. After hearing comments about the proposal, the Planning and Zoning board voted to recommend that the City Council approve the district. Approximately 10 people from the public were in attendance. Those speaking in favor the district included Mark Simmer, Mike Palmer, and Nathan Zabka.

Hearing Tuesday for Historic Overlay District
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The Chillicothe Planning and Zoning Board will have a public hearing tomorrow evening to review a request to accept a historic overlay district and ordinance. The hearing will take place at 6 p.m. in the council chambers to discuss the newest revisions to the historic preservation ordinance. This ordinance opens up the city and property owners in the historic district to grant opportunities for building renovations, preservation plans, hands-on training, and more. There is nothing mandatory in the document according to information provided by Tammi Venneman of the city's codes and zoning department. If a project within the historic district requires a building or demolition permit, voluntary recommendations could be given on the project with no additional paperwork needed or undue burden put on the property owner.

The proposal is being made by Main Street Chillicothe, a local organization that focuses on enhancing the vitality of the downtown area by preserving its architectural, commercial, and cultural heritage. "The historic preservation efforts in our city are one reason why we stand out among so many other small towns," said Main Street Chillicothe Director Ben White. "The purpose of this ordinance is so that property owners and the city can qualify for state and federal grants to help maintain and enhance our historic resources."

The proposed historic overlay district includes approximately 16 blocks bordered by Calhoun Street (north), Ann (south), Elm (east) andWalnut (west) and applies only to commercial buildings (not residential). The proposed ordinance is expected to be presented for consideration of approval by the Chillicothe City Council. Passage of the ordinance would lead to the creation of a historic preservation commission to help facilitate preservation in the community.

Panel Forms to Study Historic Preservation Plan
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Monday night's public meeting to introduce the proposed Historic Preservation Ordinance lasted two hours as the attending crowd had split opinions on the issue. According to Tammi Venneman, assistant code enforcement officer, half of the audience was against the issue because they did not want an ordinance to dictate what they could and could not do with their property; while the other half was for the ordinance in support of historic preservation and the maintained appearance of the downtown area.

C-T Photos / Jaime Saucedo

In an interview prior to the meeting, Main Street Executive Director Ben White explained that the ordinance would not restrict property owners from making changes to their property, it would only add a step to consider the historic preservation of their property, if it did, in fact, hold historic value. He also explained that the ordinance would also qualify Chillicothe to get access to federal funding not currently available to property owners, for rehabilitating properties of historic significance.

With the represented community having a split opinion, a committee was formed to work on the ordinance to look into further details of the issue in hopes of answering some lingering issues about the ordinance as it stands. The committee consists of three members of the community, a City Council member, a Planning and Zoning Board member, Venneman and White. Venneman said that there is no timeline on when they might come to a decision. "When we get the information that we requested from Main Street," said Venneman, "we will see where we should go from there. We want at least a majority on board, before we can move forward."

C-T Photos / Jaime Saucedo
Funding opportunities exist that the city of Chillicothe currently does not have access to but could become available.
If passed, a historic preservation ordinance could be the key to those funding programs through the state of Missouri.

City Exploring Historic Preservation Ordinance
Public meeting Monday at City Hall
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The Chillicothe Planning and Zoning Commission will conduct a public meeting on Monday, Oct. 2,  to discuss a historic preservation ordinance being proposed by Main Street Chillicothe that would outline a district overlay in the downtown area. The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall.

Owners of property within 185 feet of the proposed district have been invited to the hearing to learn how a historic preservation ordinance could affect the surrounding properties and the community, overall. The hearing will not result in a vote on Monday, but individuals will provide input to the Planning and Zoning Commission so that they can offer a recommendation to the City Council. According to Tammi Venneman, assistant code enforcement officer, if changes need to be made to the proposed ordinance, it would go back to the Planning and Zoning Commission; however, if changes are not needed, the proposal would be forwarded to the City Council for a vote at their next meeting. If passed, it will only affect the businesses in the district, but city is required to present it to the people. "They have a say if it is within 185 feet away from their residence or their business," said Venneman, "simply because if it's going to affect their area, then we want their opinion. The public opinion means a lot to our board."

This meeting is just a first step in a bigger opportunity. If passed, and the historic preservation ordinance is implemented, a historic preservation board would need to be formed. And, once the board would be formed, the city of Chillicothe would meet the required criteria to enter the Certified Local Government program that is administered by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources' State Historic Preservation Office. As a part of the program, Chillicothe would then be eligible for federal funding through the program for historic preservation projects. Other resources would be available to build a preservation plan, identify historic resources, and help put a program in place to identify buildings in danger of falling down and how to feasibly rehabilitate them. "We are proposing it because we want access to these additional grants to be available to the downtown owners," said Main Street Chillicothe Director Ben White. "This money is a resource that is currently not taken advantage of. It is our mission to help preserve downtown, to find access to this kind of funding and another tool to help with rehabilitation projects."

Newly-appointed City Administrator Darrin Chappell said that he is not caught up on this particular proposition but is generally familiar with this type of proposal. Chappell said that he believes historic preservation to be important and would support the ordinance as long as it does not impose burdensome restrictions that limit the downtown businesses ability to maintain their properties.

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