City Council approves historic district boundaries
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

Oct. 10, 2006 - The Sulphur Springs City Council has taken a couple of steps toward revitalizing the historic downtown area.

The council last week approved an ordinance that sets the general boundaries for a downtown historic district, while also providing a process by which nearby homes and businesses can apply for a historical district designation.

"It's like a layer of zoning," City Manager Marc Maxwell explained. "If you have commercial zoning or residential zoning inside the historic district, you now have a historical district suffix on the end of the zoning designation."

For businesses and even homes not included in the historic district, the ordinance will permit zoning changes for other property that meets the criteria.

"It established the zone first and then establishes a process by which  you could have your zoning changed from single family to single family HD if you had what you thought was a historic home and you wanted it included for whatever reason," Maxwell said. "We've established the guidelines for that."

The new ordinance also gives authorization to the downtown revitalization board to set up guidelines for development within the district and gave them the authorization to review all proposed development for compliance with those guidelines.

One of the problems long identified with downtown renovation   has been the lack of parking. The city has also taken a step toward resolving that problem, along with a plan that would bring a farmer's market to the area.

An ordinance closing Tomlinson Street between Main and Davis streets was approved to allow the site to become a parking area.

City workers demolished the building at the intersection of Main and Tomlinson streets, a structure, ironically, considered by some to be historic.

The city manger, however, said the building had become unsafe and not suitable for use. Also, a drainage ditch that ran next to the building and under Tomlinson Street had eroded and partially collapsed, prompting the temporary closure of the street.

Plans call for the water drainage course to be opened up and rerouted from its current path under City Hall and other businesses to a storage basin that would be constructed on land behind the city offices.

"Eventually, it won't flow under city hall and underneath [a nearby] pawn shop anymore, "Maxwell said. "It will flow through a drainage retention basin which we hope to dig out here in the future."

The drainage basin, according to the city manager, is a long range plan that offer a multi-use area.

"In that drainage basin, when it's not full, we hope to have a farmer's market again, to bring it back," Maxwell said

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