By Sarah Richardson
The Lewisburg City Council met Tuesday, Nov. 15 to approve an updated version of Historic Landmark Commission guidelines, hold a second reading of the proposed sale and use tax ordinance, and hear an update regarding issues with lighting at Hollowell and Dorie Miller Parks.
The Historic Landmarks Commission (HLC) has been working diligently over the last several years to update Lewisburg’s design guidelines for the historic district, and has released a new set of these guidelines in conjunction with the Mills Group to outline “how to stabilize, restore, protect, and preserve contributing structures and the public view in the Lewisburg Historic District.” The guidelines were based upon principles outlined in both the code of the City of Lewisburg, as well as the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.
The document specifies, “These guidelines are not intended to prevent property owners from making changes to their property or from completing regular maintenance activities. Property owners are encouraged to conduct annual maintenance to preserve and protect existing materials. Instead, these guidelines are intended to assist property owners in making practical decisions that enhance the historic qualities of their properties and town.”
“We are excited that we finally have updated guidelines from the Historic Landmarks Commission, and they are excited as well,” said Mayor Beverly White. City Manager Misty Hill explained that these guidelines were also reviewed and approved by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). Hill said that some of the amendments made to the guidelines include a new administrative color chart, where certain colors can be approved by city officials without having to be presented to the HLC.
Mayor White noted that building materials have changed over the years, including some cost-effective options, and, “We are just trying to make it easier for our citizens.”
Councilmember John Little motioned to approve these guidelines on the first reading but requested an executive overview of the updates and changes made from the previous regulations.
The second reading of the implementation of a 1 percent sales and use tax, and 1 percent decrease of the B&O tax, passed council unanimously with no comments from the public at either public hearing. This 1 percent tax is proposed to begin within city limits starting on July 1, 2023.
Councilmember Sarah Elkins reports that new lights ordered for Dorie Miller Park continue to have issues. The old lights filled with water, and the new lights arrived with the wrong plugs and continue to gather moisture inside the housing. The parks department is continuing to work with the company to remedy the errors. Elkins said that the City also received a $60,000 Arts and Recreation grant to help cover the cost of new little league lighting at Hollowell Park. A quote of $109,000 was received to replace the lights, so the City wrote two additional grants which are still out for a final decision.
The Council also approved Ordinance 312: an agreement with Altice/Cebridge (formerly Suddenlink), on the first reading. This agreement allows Cebridge to operate a cable-based franchise in town. “We don’t really have another option,” said Councilmember Little. Councilmembers discussed the lawsuits and subsequent verdicts Suddenlink faced earlier this year, which led to a West Virginia-based call center and purportedly shorter wait times on the complaint line. Hill noted that Countryman Communications is also permitted to operate in town, as well as and a fibernet system called Spirit. Councilmember Sarah Elkins encourages community members to attend the next City Council meeting on Dec. 20 at 7 p.m. to make their voices heard to the new Altice/Cebridge representative.