As reported in The Athens Banner-Herald, a block of West Rutherford Street between Stanton Way and Mount Vernon Place west of South Milledge Avenue in the Five Points neighborhood was named Athens-Clarke County’s 11th designated historic district.
After over a year of the Athens-Clarke County Historic Preservation Commission requesting that the county government review a potential local historic designation for the block, Athens-Clarke County commissioners recently approved it.
The new West Rutherford Street Historic District, which includes 15 parcels spanning 6.5 acres, is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places-designated West Cloverhurst / Springdale Historic District.
The local designation means that any exterior changes planned for structures within the new historic district must be issued a “certificate of appropriateness” after a review is conducted by the Historic Preservation Commission.
There is also a tax advantage for property owners in a neighborhood that carries both a national and a local historic designation. According to Amy Kissane, executive director of the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation, they are entitled to have their property assessment frozen for eight years, which offers some protection against rising property taxes, particularly if the rate at which property is taxed does not change appreciably during that time.
Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Mike Hamby told the newspaper that the neighborhood decided to pursue the designation after a demolition permit was filed for a residential structure as the first step in a proposal that Hamby said would have “changed the character of the neighborhood.”
According to a report presented to the mayor and commission prior to their Dec. 6 decision, the area was one of the first residential subdivisions in Athens having appeared on an 1891 document titled “Map of Cloverhurst Farm.”
Aside from its early layout as a subdivision-style street, the West Rutherford Historic District carries the local designation based on the character of the homes which were constructed between 1930 and 1956.
The local historic designation for the West Rutherford Street Historic District was moving forward as county residents and officials, notably in intown neighborhoods like Five Points where the new district is located, were becoming concerned about infill development, or new construction on vacant lots or renovation of underutilized lots which can be developed out of scale and style with the surrounding neighborhood.
As a result, county planners advised that establishing historic districts could control infill development, but a final set of recommendations to county officials concentrated most heavily on limiting the size of a new residential development or significant renovation of existing homes.
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