Hughes: OWN wins ‘Round 1 of overlay proposal at City Council

       Three members of Colorado Springs City Council spoke positively, and none negatively, regarding a proposed Westside historic overlay zone at the informal meeting Jan. 8.
       Westside civic leader Dave Hughes expressed optimism after the meeting, saying “We won round one” of a process that he thinks could take at least another year.
       Hughes, a board member of the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN), represented a plan by which the city would contract with OWN in setting up the zone and provide $15,000 for the purpose.
       The advocacy group has been pushing for the plan since 2003 as a way to preserve 3,600 homes in a defined area of the older Westside and to encourage compatible new construction. “I see the threat to developers coming over there (to the Westside) who just tear things down,” Hughes told council. At the same time, he added, “there are people who would like to fix their places in an appropriately historic way.”
       The $15,000 would include the expense for a local architect to develop design guidelines categorizing historic Westside architectural styles. Several other steps would follow that, including public meetings to gauge Westside support for the zone plan and an eventual City Council vote.
       He stressed, however, that the zone would be voluntary, using tax breaks and educational incentives to encourage participation, rather than city codes to require it.
       Mayor Lionel Rivera seemed impressed at this vision. He said he'd opposed the historic preservation plan for the Old North End seven years ago, because of its mandatory aspects. “I would prefer what Mr. Hughes says,” he noted.
       Council member Randy Purvis, a Westside resident, raised the issue in conjunction with council member Jerry Heimlicher, whose district includes the Westside. The issue came up during the “open council discussion” part of the meeting.
       “The reason Randy and I wanted to bring this up today is because it appears it has not been going anywhere,” Heimlicher said. “What we really want to do is get it moving and get a decision so that they (OWN) can do this thing or not do this thing.”
       Rivera asked the city manager to put the matter on a future agenda (possibly within two weeks) so council can discuss it further.

Westside Pioneer article