The results of an architectural survey to identify historic properties in Mount Airy, which has been opposed by some members of the city council, are to be unveiled later this month.
This will occur during a meeting scheduled on July 26 from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Kidz Club area of Reeves Community Center. It is located on the lower level of the building, which can be entered from the Cherry Street parking lot.
Dan Pezzoni, an architectural historian with Landmark Preservation Associates in Lexington, Virginia, will present the findings of the survey performed by that firm under a contract approved by the city government in February.
This was done to update Mount Airy’s existing architectural survey, which dates to 1985, in order to identify additional historic resources in town due to many more buildings now meeting a 50-year age requirement for historic designation.
During the upcoming meeting at the community center, Pezzoni will give an illustrated talk on the survey and discuss preliminary recommendations for a state study list.
That list details properties and areas that could be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
The National Register of Historic Places imposes no obligations or restrictions on the owners of such locations for using private resources to maintain or alter their properties, according to information provided by the city manager’s office regarding the July 26 meeting.
“National Register listing should not be confused with local historic property and historic district designations,” the statement from that office adds.
“These designations are made by a local governing board on the recommendation of a local historic preservation commission.”
Mount Airy received an $18,000 Historic Preservation Fund grant from the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources State Historic Preservation Office in 2017 to conduct the architectural survey. The grant required a local match of $12,000 to pay for the survey with a total price tag of $30,000.
However, commissioners Jon Cawley and Shirley Brinkley have been skeptical about the survey process, including voting in February 2017 against seeking the state grant and also opposing the acceptance of the funding last October after it was awarded. Both issues were approved in 3-2 votes.
Cawley has explained his stance by saying that he has never received a satisfactory answer about what the architectural survey would accomplish as far as a net result.
Brinkley also questioned the value of the survey process and both she and Cawley expressed concern about possible pressures being placed on property owners, including financially and in terms of infringing on their rights.
City Planning Director Andy Goodall has said the survey will have “no effect on a property owner” and is only a matter of research.
Goodall said one benefit from it is helping Mount Airy maintain a certified local government status it earlier was granted, which makes property owners eligible for tax credits for rehabilitating historic or architecturally significant buildings.
Restrictions would be imposed if a property owner used state or federal funding to make changes, rather than his or her own funds, an architectural survey coordinator for the State Historic Preservation Office has said.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.