I went to a public meeting tonight on the subject of turning the near south side of Racine into a historic district. What this would mean for property owners in the area is that alterations to their property would have to meet the approval of a commission, much like the one already in place downtown. Window replacements, roof reshingling, fences, porches, you name it, the decisions will no longer be made by the owners.
The reaction from the audience ranged from skeptical to hostile for the most part. Simply put, these folks didn't want to turn over the decisions regarding their property to the government.
Not everyone was opposed to the idea. One woman spoke in support and was generally well received until she said that not everyone is cut out for owning a historic home and that perhaps they should sell. She was shouted down, deservedly so imho.
Also speaking was Bob Hartman, a member of the Landmarks Commission that I believe is pushing this idea. Bob is a nice fellow but I believe he should have told the crowd that he stands to make money if the area becomes a historic district. How so? Well, Bob is a designer and would likely be on the commission, just as he is downtown. So he would probably get referrals to do the designs that would help his clients make it through the committee. Seems like a conflict of interest to me but at the very least Bob would likely profit from this move and I think he should have indicated as much to the audience.
Anyway, I am happy to report that a large number of property owners on the south side will not be handing over their property rights to the city without a big, loud fight. I just might like to join them.