The Kennesaw Avenue Historic District existed for about a week until being vetoed by Mayor Steve Tumlin in 2010.
The district encompassed 29 properties, of which 25 were houses, along Kennesaw Avenue beginning at its intersection with Maple Avenue and ending just before Atwood Drive.
The veto, Tumlin’s first as mayor, was made at the recommendation of Gregg Litchfield, an attorney with Haynie, Litchfield and Crane, the Marietta firm that represents the city. Before approving a local historic district, a certain number of public hearings must be conducted. Litchfield argued at the time that one of those hearings was not conducted or properly advertised, rendering the ordinance unenforceable.
On Monday Tumlin said he was not philosophically opposed to historic districts, it’s just that the steps must be followed correctly in creating them.
The Historic Preservation Commission met Monday evening to discuss moving forward with the historic district.
“The charge of the historic preservation ordinance is to create these districts, so we’re just fulfilling our charge from the city,” HPC Chairman David Freedman said. “It’s ultimately up to the residents of that district to decide, so we want to give them their opportunity because a lot of the residents in that proposed district were in favor.”
Properties included in a historic district would be regulated by the HPC for external changes noticed from the street such as screening in a porch, adding on another wing to a house or demolishing the building.
To become a historic district, 60 percent of the owners of eligible properties in the district must be in favor. Each property owner gets one vote per parcel, so that an owner of five parcels for example gets five votes. Once the needed votes are secured and the district is approved by the HPC, it must then be approved by the City Council.
“It’s just one of the important historic areas of Marietta,” said HPC member Becky Paden, in explaining why the area should become a historic district. “And it has such a good variety of architectural styles. We have the really fine Tranquilla and Archibald Howell House — antebellum architecture — and we have some really beautiful Victorian houses, and there’s even a craftsman house thrown in there on that street. There are just houses that have significance because of the people who built them or lived in them, and it would just be I think a feather in Marietta’s cap to have the first district in the Kennesaw Avenue area.”
Paden said it’s been frustrating that the process has taken so long.
“Ray Worden and David Freedman and I have been on the HPC since it was established in 2005 and started making plans to make a district, and so I guess technically we’ve been trying to get a district for the seven years we’ve been on the commission and had just one barrier after another thrown in our paths,” she said.
Freedman said he doesn’t expect a vote from the property owners to occur until after the New Year begins, meaning springtime would be the earliest the district could be approved.
“When it was vetoed last time I thought it was on a minor technicality, so this time we don’t want to risk that happening, so we’re making sure we go through every step of the process,” he said.