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story.lead_photo.caption Under proposed changes to the City of Fulton's historic preservation code, owners of homes within Fulton's historic districts — such as this house in the Bell Historic District — would be subject to a non-binding review from the Historic Preservation Commission before undertaking major exterior renovations. Photo by Helen Wilbers / Fulton Sun.

Following confusion about state requirements, the Fulton Historic Preservation Commission has agreed to send its proposed new chapter of the city code back to the state for review.

Tuesday's Fulton City Council meeting included extensive discussion of the code, which would replace the current Chapter 62. City Council members ultimately voted down the bill to introduce the new code — but it may return within the next few months.

The HPC is a mayor-appointed, six person board tasked with encouraging the preservation, restoration and rehabilitation of the city's historic structures, districts and neighborhoods. Members should have experience related to historic preservation (history or architecture, for example).

 

Design review

Much of the new Chapter 62 is similar to the previous code chapter. Other parts have been modified based on a historic preservation code in use in Washington, Missouri.

"I have pause with some of the new language," Ward 2 Council Member Jeff Stone said. "It puts a lot of ownership on the preservation commission to approve things in town."

He and other council members expressed concerns about the "mandatory non-binding design review." The design review represents an overhaul and clarification of the current historic property construction permit process, outlined in Sect. 62-35 through 62-37.

Under the new process, anyone seeking to perform construction or demolition on a property that would require a city permit within a Fulton historical district will have to submit their project to review by the HPC. (This includes non-historic homes within the districts.) Activities such as ordinary or emergency repairs and maintenance, interior remodeling, landscaping, and the construction of unenclosed patios and small gazebos do not require a design review.

Property owners seeking to carry out construction that does require a review must complete an application and submit it to the HPC. The HPC must then meet within 30 days with the applicant or the applicant's representative to go over the planned changes and issue recommendations.

"We'll give them some suggestions to keep the property within the aesthetics of the neighborhood," said David McDaniel, current president of the HPC.

Those suggestions might include notes about roof shape, landscaping, architectural materials, types of windows and doors used, and more. Following the meeting, the HPC will issue a certificate of review.

The new chapter makes it clear the HPC's suggestions are non-binding — a homeowner may disregard them at will. However, if the applicant or a representative fails to attend a meeting with the HPC, the city will not issue a permit for the construction/demolition, according to the draft code chapter. On the other hand, if the HPC fails to set a meeting within 30 days of the application, the city is to go ahead and issue the permit.

"We've decided as a committee to be as quick as possible (in organizing meetings)," McDaniel said.

Stone said during his brief tenure on the HPC, the commission regularly offered advice about exterior renovations to homeowners. For example, they once encouraged someone to redo their siding using period-accurate 10-inch siding, rather than modern 6-inch siding. Stone said he found the advice to be typically "respectful."

"I understand it's non-binding, but I have a rough time telling people what they can and can't do with their own property, especially when the city has buildings that are falling down that we can't seem to get taken care of," Ward 3's John Braun said.

 

State review

Fulton is a participant in the Missouri Certified Local Government Program, administered by the Department of Natural Resources' State Historic Preservation Office. The CLG requires before a city put in place a new historic preservation code, they must first run it by the SHPO.

"That's been the holdup for the last four years," City Clerk Courtney Crowson said.

McDaniel said he's sent it off for review once already, and the state sent back some modifications, which the HPC has since incorporated in addition to some other changes. Council members opined, before the council can vote on whether to adopt the code, it needs to return to the state one last time.

Crowson said it typically takes up to several months to hear back.

"I think we've come to an agreement that this is not quite ready yet," Ward 4's Rick Shiverdecker said.

City Council members voted unanimously against the bill, with the understanding it would be brought back later after undergoing the final review process.

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