The propositions and ideals behind SB 1488 have the Historic Preservation community across the state standing in protest and those of us here in Nacogdoches should be first on our feet.
This legislation would prohibit a municipality from designating a historic landmark without the property owner's consent and handcuff municipalities from ensuring preservation occurs in our historic community.
Here in Nacogdoches, we are proud of our origins and associated history. I still can’t distinguish between the historic clubs in the community (DAR, FOHNI, ABCDEFG, etc etc) and have trouble drawing a line between the five historic districts and individually designated properties in our community.
Isn’t that confusion a wonderful thing? To have a community who’s in love with its deep historic roots is something these new cookie-cutter communities only dream of.
Legislators Dade Phelan from Beaumont and Dawn Buckingham from Lakeway (near Austin) clearly didn’t drink from this same historically minded kool-aid when they filed companion bills to deprive municipal governments of their local control and the ability to preserve buildings of historical significance in our own communities.
Photo taken by: Ryan Russell
Nacogdoches alone has five National Historic District--one being the Downtown District. Downtown obviously has a special place in my heart as it is the home of some of my favorite local businesses all while bringing tourists, charm, and character to the Oldest Town in Texas.
Preservation is without a doubt is the reason for this civic masterpiece and our local museums showcase what preservation can do for a piece of property and speak volumes to the importance of preservation.
Communities from across the country call Nacogdoches frequently to get a copy of our “design standards.” These standards lie within Chapter 50 of the city ordinances and only regulate the exterior of a historic property. They are straightforward and do not advocate for a certain style and type of building but do require that a building is “restored” to some point in its history.
The example I like to use is a balcony. If a property owner can find a photo of that building having a balcony in the past, then they may restore it with a new second floor balcony and accompanied characteristics. We do not tell property owners what color to paint their buildings or distinguish between the many styles of a buildings history for sheer preference.
These guidelines also discuss the distinguishing qualities of the architecture and how to properly clean structures and build additions to homes. These guidelines preserve property values and most of all the integrity of the entire community.
In a strong property-rights state, it’s easy to see why this legislation was authored in the first place.However, these bills would heavily restrict our power to preserve our community by disallowing requirements of certain building products and renovations. Thus, allowing modern materials to be added onto historic properties, shredding the original integrity of a building.
Additionally, this legislation does not allow a municipality to declare a building historic without the property owner’s permission. While this sounds reasonable, there is very rarely an occurrence where a local government designates a building without the consent of a property owner and when that happens it’s usually when the property owner wants to bulldoze the building, and the city wants to save an important and irreplaceable landmark for future generations.
According to our partners at Preservation Texas and the Texas Downtown Association this bill was drafted and filed without input from the preservation community.
Our uniqueness is a matter of pride and sameness is not to be celebrated--especially for the Oldest Town in Texas. Therefore, we encourage members of our community to reach out and have your voice be heard to ensure we continue to keep the power to preserve in our community.
Contact members of the bill's author as well as the Culture, Recreation and Tourism Committee before the hearing on Wednesday morning.
Senate Bill 1488 Author
Sen. Dawn Buckingham
Senate Natural Resources and Economic Development Committee
Sen. Kelly Hancock (Chair)
Sen. Robert Nichols (Vice Chair)
Sen. Donna Campbell
Sen. Brandon Creighton
Sen. Jose Menendez
Sen. Angela Paxton
Sen. Charles Schwertner
Sen. John Whitmire
Sen. Judith Zaffirini
Will be published in The Daily Sentinel on 3/27/19.
Amy Mehaffey began her work with the City of Nacogdoches in July 2015. Prior to this, she worked as a 4-H Specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. In this role she did marketing and promotion for the Texas 4-H Youth Development Program and served as the event coordinator for Texas 4-H Roundup, the agency’s largest event. Amy graduated in May 2015 with her PhD in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Sciences with an emphasis in youth development. During the pursuit of this degree she also received a certificate in Prevention Science and a Certificate in Non-Profit Management from the Bush School of Government and Public Service. Previously, she completed a Master’s of Science in Agricultural Communications at Texas A&M University and a Bachelor’s of Science in the same field at Texas Tech University. Amy is also a freelance photographer and enjoys Texas A&M football in the fall. She is married to John Michael Mehaffey who is a professor of Animal Science at Stephen F. Austin State University. They are proud parents to Hattie Mae Mehaffey, born September 1, 2016 and are expecting another, Hunter Leigh Mehaffey in July 2018.