Last week, the Lexington Planning Board approved, by a 5-2 vote, to recommend to city council for its approval an amendment to an ordinance that will allow the Park Place plat to become a Local Historic District.
We appear to be one step — perhaps the final step — closer to having an historic district in a process that first came about nearly 10 years ago. That means some of the wonderful and nearly 100-year-old buildings within the proposed boundary (roughly from West Center Street to Third Avenue and South State Street to South Payne Street) will find safe haven in protection from potential outside development as well as preservation for future enjoyment. "Preservation" and "protection", of course, are the key words here.
While there is some residential opposition to having an historic district (mostly in response to a perceived "added layer of bureaucracy"), having an historic district makes considerable sense to me.
The proposed district is adjacent — and within walking distance — to the revitalized Uptown Lexington commercial district. Uptown Lexington, in turn, is adjacent to the proposed Depot District which already hosts a vibrant Farmers' Market. Taken as a whole and together, these projects put Lexington in a progressive, forward-moving fast lane. It makes us relevant.
But just to satisfy myself, I conducted a private, unscientific poll of my own. We were in Statesville Saturday, where my wife was fulfilling a business request for her new employer. Meanwhile, I walked around town, eventually making my way into the city's Davie Street-Broad Street historic district, which was approved in 1980. I walked a mile out on Davie and returned back on Broad. The place is loaded with Craftsmen, Four Squares, Bungalows and an occasional stately Queen Anne here and there. To me, it rivals Salisbury's historic district
I counted just three properties for sale on my walk, leading me to two conclusions: a) property values are stable, even in a recession, and b) people apparently are happy to live here, not feeling any undue added financial burden to maintain their homes in accordance with guidelines.
While walking, I found a man mowing his lawn and we engaged in conversation. He told me he really enjoys living in the district. Because the district was formed more than 30 years ago, it actually spurred subsequent renovation of the Statesville's adjacent Downtown (as opposed to Lexington's "Uptown" — I wish I knew the difference), which features sandblasted store fronts, brick crosswalks in the streets and attractive curbside landscaping. Another area, near Mitchell Community College, also saw its neighborhood raise itself.
These are solitary, individual stories, of course. Each town is different, with its own response to what lies ahead. But it's amazing to me how looking back at our past can help us move forward into the future.