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Advisory panel recommended for district guidelines

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The front door of the Ritenour residence, at 267 W. Queen St. in Strasburg’s historic district, is shown. Rich Cooley/Daily

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By Sally Voth -- svoth@nvdaily.com

STRASBURG -- Town Manager Judson Rex is recommending creation of an advisory committee to consult with the Town Council and the Architectural Review Board regarding historic district guidelines.

The Town Council bowed to public pressure last week, suspending the administration and enforcement of the town's historic preservation ordinance.

Residents within the historic district had berated the panel and the ARB for guidelines they said infringed on their rights to do what they wished with their properties, and would be too costly.

The council revised the ordinance in 2009, requiring Architectural Review Board approval to remodel or build new structures in the historic district. Guidelines for it have yet to be adopted.

During a council work session Monday night, Rex presented a proposed timeline for adopting a revised historic preservation ordinance and historic district design guidelines. The ARB meets Thursday, with the ordinance committee's next meeting May 31.
Joint Town Council and ARB work sessions are planned during the next several months, and Oct. 11 is the proposed adoption date.

The idea of an advisory group came up during the recent public forum and in discussion with council members, Rex said. Such a group would provide "a different perspective," he said.

More input was needed about forming the group, Rex said, but he suggested various specialists, such as real-estate agents, contractors, historic preservationists and architects.

"It seems to me to be a good idea," ARB member James Massey said.

ARB Chairman Chris Skarupa said the board has been trying to get more membership.
Councilman Don Le Vine said expert advisers could offer input, but not be voting members.

"I wouldn't want the ARB itself to get too big and cumbersome," he said.

Getting the right people onto an advisory board is key, Councilman Bob Baker said.

"They have to be pretty much expert [at] what they're doing," he said. "If the citizens are going to rely on these people, they've got to be good people."

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