ALBANY, GA (WALB) - City commissioners met Tuesday night, two of the issues on the agenda were the controversial historic district expansion and the establishment of a Land Bank.
After four hours of discussion and voting, commissioners decided to table the vote on expanding the historic district until August 22.
A fiery debate on whether to expand Albany's historic district played out Tuesday evening.
We heard from residents voicing why they were either for or against the expansion.
The proposal would expand the local historic district to include more homes just outside Rawson Circle, impacting hundreds of home and property owners.
While some argue that it could protect and increase the property values of their homes, others are concerned it is designed to push some people out to bring others in.
We also heard from Albany Historic Preservation Commission representatives who offered more insight on what you can and can't do if you're in the historic district, and this was a major point of contention.
Another was the size of the historic district expansion map. Many commissioners were not comfortable with the number of properties being added to the district.
And last was the ordinance itself, some commissioners were concerned it was too outdated and vague.
There was also a lot of misinformation with city leaders tying in zoning issues and code enforcement issues with historic preservation.
"It was astounding to find out that this has been going for 20 years, it is time that would do exactly what we said tonight. Now it's up to every commissioner and the mayor to hold the law office, city manager and the planning commission. We need to put their feet to the fire," said Commissioner BJ Fletcher.
"When you have an issue like this where there are strong feelings on both sides, just a general process in the democratic form to get decisions made," said Historic Preservation Commission Chairman Greg Fullerton.
In the motion to table the historic expansion vote, commissioners asked Historic Preservation Commission reps to redo the survey and mail out to homeowners to get their feedback.
They also tasked Paul Forgey with Planning Commission to re-submit three new maps of the expansion.
Historic Preservation Commission reps said although the issue would be dragged out a little longer, they're hopeful a majority of commissioners will support it.
City commissioners also voted to approve developing a Land Bank in Albany, Dougherty County.
The land bank is a tool that communities use to foster investment in abandoned areas.
It's made of appointed board members vested with the authority to acquire abandoned and blighted property.
The Land Bank can also extinguish taxes and liens on a property and then sell it to someone for development.
"By passing the land bank so many of these properties that are tied up in court, we can actually not worry about a tax lien, we can find someone that wants this property, we can put it back on the tax roll, that was probably the hugest thing tonight," said Commissioner BJ Fletcher.
Now that the city has approved it, leaders can move forward with developing the Land Bank.
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