Albany neighbors debate historic expansion

Albany neighbors debate historic expansion
The room was full at the LEC (Source:WALB)
City commissioners tried to gauge the crowd (Source:WALB)
City commissioners tried to gauge the crowd (Source:WALB)
Sharon Subadan, City manager (Source:WALB)
Sharon Subadan, City manager (Source:WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A fiery debate on whether to expand Albany's historic district played out at a public meeting Thursday.

The contention was clear in a room split with those passionate on both sides of an argument about the possible expansion of Albany's historic district.

"We've got a neighborhood that's dilapidation and we need you help," resident Stan Brown said, related to homes that need to be repaired in the current historic district.

Officials said more than 100 people attended the event.

"Homes are going to be abandoned if we put more regulations," Eric Yesbick, who is a homeowner and rental owner against the proposal, said. "I'm saying that as a Lawson Circle resident."

The proposal would expand the local historic district to include more homes just outside Lawson Circle, impacting hundreds of home and property owners.

"Some people have called me one way or the other, but say I don't want to start anything," event organizer and City Commissioner Bobby Coleman said. "Now, is the time to be candid because we're going to take a vote Tuesday Night."

Some against being put in the historic district said the costs of keeping up with historic requirements would put a financial strain on them.

Others for the change say it's needed to help keep property values up.

City commissioners attended the event at the Law Enforcement Center to get a pulse as to how residents want them to decide on the proposal next week.

"Everybody that's not for it stand," Coleman asked the crowd, in an effort to gauge their interest.

After a night of intense debate, Commissioner B.J. Fletcher proposed the idea that the vote be taken from commissioners and given to the people of the neighborhood in a referendum.

"You could ask people to vote up or down and 51 percent rule. That is not in our existing ordinance, but it could be and that could be part of the discussion that happens on the meeting Tuesday," City Manager Sharon Subadan said.

That's a meeting that is sure to bring the fiery crowd downtown once again.

A man warned commissioners to have enough chairs next Tuesday at their meeting, saying a lot of people plan to be there.

The proposal will be presented to the city commission on April 25.

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