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Preservation and the City's Plan

Historic Charleston Foundation to host public forum this Monday
Warwick Jones

The Historic Charleston Foundation (HCF) publicly expressed concern late last year about the major construction projects planned for the City and the impact on the Historic Districts. It was a concern felt by the Preservation Society and many citizens. The HCF stated at that time that it proposed to hold a public forum on the issue. It has been a long time coming and we feared it would not be conducted. But it will be - at the Charleston Museum on Monday, November 6, beginning 7pm.

Viewers of this web site know that we have been very critical of the City and its encouragement of development. Although there is an Ordinance in place to protect the Historic District, "variances" and "exceptions" have been generously approved by the Board of Zoning Appeals. We also feel that the Board of Architectural Review, tasked to ensure appropriate building designs, has fallen well short of its purpose.

The scope and character of the Historic District makes Charleston unique amongst the nation's cities. It gives a special luster to our City. It is also the draw millions of tourists a year and makes tourism the City's largest industry. We think that preservation of the Historic District and its buildings is of the ultimate importance to the City. We urge all interested citizens to attend the forum.

The following is drawn from the HCF website

Historic Charleston Foundation will celebrate its 60th anniversary in a big way next year, marking the occasion with a $75,000 gift to the city of Charleston in partial support of a much-needed update of the city's nationally renowned preservation plan. The gift will provide the seed money to retain a team of nationally renowned consultants who will facilitate the update of the city's 1974 plan.

HCF will sponsor a Fall Preservation Forum on Monday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m. at The Charleston Museum auditorium. The forum will introduce the development of the preservation plan and the consultants leading that initiative to the community.

The architectural/planning firm of Page & Turnbull, from San Francisco, will lead the planning effort. Page & Turnbull team member Charles Chase is a name well known to many Charlestonians, as he formally served as the city's preservation architect for more than 10 years.

"The initiative for a new plan began at the Foundation, and its completion will be the culmination of this very special year and our gift the city," said Kitty Robinson, HCF Executive Director and forum moderator.

Panelists will include Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr.; Winslow Hastie, HCF's Director of Preservation; Cynthia Jenkins, Executive Director of the Preservation Society of Charleston; John Hildreth, Executive Director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Southern Office; and Eddie Bello, City of Charleston Architect and Preservation Planner.

"Community involvement is crucial to the success of the new preservation plan," said Katherine Saunders, Associate Director of Preservation. "We hope that the fall Preservation Forum will be the beginning of that input process."

Many of the recommendations in the 1974 Historic Preservation Plan have been successfully implemented. The existence of the city's preservation office stems from the plan, as do height restrictions and anti-neglect ordinances.

"Charleston led the way in this initiative, and it is time to do so again. We live in a different city than we did 30 years ago and the challenges to preservation have changed accordingly. Many issues simply need to be refined, while new issues, like archaeology and the preservation of the city's environs, need to be addressed," Saunders said.

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