In general, the document seeks to preserve the architectural and historical character of the downtown area by setting forth restrictions on dozens of buildings in the district. It also better positions Winchester to take advantage of state and federal grants.
Supporters say the overlay preserves important landmarks, protects property values in the district and promotes more tourism and commerce downtown.
Detractors argue that the rules are too imposing, restrictive and expensive. They also allege that the Historic Preservation Commission has not applied the rules consistently across properties.
“I think it is an important tool,” Burtner said. “By policy, the commission believed it to be an important tool when it was adopted. Since that time, there have been some concerns raised.”
Burtner first announced the proposal last week during a meeting with the Winchester Board of Commissioners. At the time, he stressed that he does not favor repealing the ordinance, and believes the community fundamentally supports historic preservation.
On Monday, Burtner said County Judge-Executive Henry Branham and Jeff Phelps, chairman of the Historic Preservation Commission, want to participate in the process.
The matter seems well-timed, he said, considering that officials are wrapping up revisions to the Comprehensive Plan and have completed updates to the local sign regulations. He hopes to receive names for potential participants on the committee.
“It seems to me like this would be a good next step and next issue to tackle,” said Burtner.
Contact Mike Wynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.