Pelham homeowners unhappy about historic district - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Pelham homeowners unhappy about historic district

By Christian Jennings - bio | email

PELHAM, GA (WALB) - A large portion of the city of Pelham is now considered an historic district.

City leaders say the title is going to have a positive economic impact on the community, and will help protect the historical integrity of the town.

But some homeowners who live within the historic district are upset. They don't want it, and say the city went about adopting the district unlawfully.

Homeowners against the new historic district say they weren't given proper notice in the mail before the district was adopted.

They also don't like the idea of having to get approval to make changes to their homes.

Downtown Pelham, and about 200 homes surrounding downtown, is now officially considered a local historic district.

Randy Due's home lies in the district, and he's putting up a fight.

"I'm sick of government taking away our property rights," he says.

If a homeowner wants to make changes to the exterior of their home, they must obtain a certificate of appropriateness in order to do so.

"If I want to make changes to my windows, they could prevent me from doing that," he says.

Ever since the district was adopted in April, Due has been working hard to fight it.

"This is a list of all the names of people who do not want to be in the historical district, and there are fourty names," says Due.

But the city manager says people like Randy Due are missing the point.

"It protects everyone's property. It keeps folks from coming in and tearing down buildings, and the overall appearance of the town should improve," says Doug Westberry.

Local officials say the new title should also result in a positive economic impact from tourism, recruit new business to the area, and help when applying for grants.

"Everyone is not going to agree. But we feel like the majority of the people are happy about this," says Westberry.

"They must take away the district because they broke the law," says Due.

Due claims the city broke the law which requires they mail written notices to all property owners who will be affected by the district, prior to adoptions.

Due says he never got a letter, the city says he did.

"I'm willing to do whatever is necessary. This is not going to go away until they correct their mistakes," says Due.

The city of Pelham has a Historic Preservation Committee made up of Pelham citizens. The committee began two years ago when they started researching the idea.

They say the frustrating thing is a lot of the people complaining about the district now, who were not at the early meetings when talk of the district began.

Randy Due says he plans on taking legal action against the city if they do not plan on making the changes he wants.

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