By STEVEN NALLEY
The Starkville Historic Preservation Commission will host a presentation explaining an application for Downtown Starkville to join the National Register of Historic Places at its 5:30 p.m. meeting Monday in the building department on City Hall’s second floor.
The agenda calls for the Starkville Central Neighborhood Foundation, which is filing the application, to conduct the presentation in conjunction with the Starkville Main Street Association. After the presentation, the HPC will discuss what recommendations to make to the city for dealing with the pending designation of Downtown Starkville as a national historic district.
On Wednesday, HPC member Tom Walker said he urges downtown building owners to attend. Both the HPC and the SMSA hosted presentations Nov. 3 on NRHP tax ramifications from Todd Sanders, an architectural historian with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, but Walker said only 20 building representatives attended the SMSA presentation, and none attended the HPC presentation.
“To be honest with you, given that there are 144 buildings in the area that are being considered for national historic designation, attendance was very poor,” Walker said. “All I can tell you is I got my notification either the day of or the day after the meeting.”
Kathleen Hamby, SCNF president, said she mailed notice of the SMSA presentation to downtown business owners on Oct. 18. As evidence, Hamby offered an email dated Oct. 19 notifying Michelle Jones the letters had been sent the previous day, with a copy of the letter attached. Michelle Jones is the Certified Local Government coordinator for MDAH’s Historic Preservation Division.
Hamby said SCNF’s application began in 2010, before the HPC and the SMSA were formed. She said business owners should not be concerned if the NRHP application succeeds because participation in its tax incentives and building rehabilitation programs is optional for owners of buildings on the register.
“In no way are trying to impose any regulations on business owners or building owners,” Hamby said. “We want to provide information to the community on the history of Starkville.”
An official summary of NRHP policies features a list of activities the NRHP does and does not undertake. According to that summary, the NRHP does not “Limit or restrict the rights of property owners to use, develop or sell their historic properties; require that historic properties be maintained, repaired or restored; or require that historic properties be open to the public.”
It says NRHP also does not “require review of state, local or privately funded projects that could affect historic properties.” Finally, it says the NRHP lists properties only if “the owner or a majority (of) owners agree to the listing.”