Don’t be in a rush

Published 8:14 pm Tuesday, December 12, 2017


Washington’ Historic Preservation Commission should take all the time it needs to consider requests for four certificates of appropriateness to demolish four structures in downtown Washington. After all, allowing their demolition would substantially change the landscape.

Greenville-based BBL Ventures, although it filed the demolition requests, would prefer something be done to preserve the Johns Havens Moss mill, Phillip Aaron house, Winfield Texaco service station and a manager’s office, if possible, and find other uses for them or possibly relocate some of the structures. Because those structures — on one lot — are not officially listed as historically significant structures, the commission cannot deny the requests for the certificates of appropriateness to demolish them, according to John Rodman, the city’s director of community and cultural resources and chief planner.

BBL Ventures may prefer to find ways to save the structures, but it is seeking the certificates of appropriateness. If those requests are approved, that opens to door for demolition.

The commission plans to inspect the structures before making a decision on the requests at its January meeting. The commission has two options regarding the request for each structure: grant it or grant it but delay demolition for 365 days.

A BBL Ventures spokesman said he would prefer the commission grant the requests for demolition but invoke the 365-day delay provision to give BBL Ventures time to “pursue any and all options that make sense” regarding the fate of the structures.

Commission member Geraldine McKinley is right in calling to the mill, service station, house and manager’s office as “iconic structures in Washington.”

In recent years, too many historic structures in downtown Washington have been lost.

The Historic Preservation Commission needs to reverse that trend whenever possible. Yes, public safety comes first, but historic preservation should be a close second.