Louisville Metro’s Planning and Zoning Committee will consider two competing ordinances that change the city’s landmarks process on Tuesday.
The current law requires landmarks to be declared through petitions and the city’s appointed Landmarks Commission. Opponents of changing the longstanding ordinance argue “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” But several council members have sponsored an ordinance that has a major provision adamantly opposed by several in the preservation and historical communities.
Both proposals before the committee slow down the landmarks process and provide more public notification.
They would also require a majority of the 200 petition signatures to come from those living closer to the proposed landmark. This includes residents and property owners living in the council district of the proposed site, or within a one mile radius of the site.
But Councilman David Yates and nearly half of his colleagues have backed a measure that gives Metro Council’s majority opinion final say on the Landmarks Commission decisions.
“If, and only if, there’s a trigger of the majority of the council calls it up. So if you get one or two members that want that oversight it’s not enough,” said Yates.
Fourteen council members would have to want to challenge the commission’s decision and would then begin a process by which the commission would explain their decision granting a site landmark status.
The decision would then be left to the Metro Council and out of the hands of the commission, which includes several landmarks professionals and experts.
Council members Tom Owen and Tina Ward-Pugh have not budged from opposing giving the Metro Council a role in landmarks decisions, but Owen told WFPL their ordinance likely doesn’t have votes.
“No. there’s still massive amounts of work and hope to do to persuade the council to adopt the Owen, Ward Pugh version,” he said.
Yates said it's unclear which bill is more likely to clear committee, but as long as either measure passes, the full council will likely make any changes it desires.
“I think it makes more sense to propose the one with all the co-sponsors that everybody’s worked on for so long to move that out of committee,” he said.
Several council members from both sides of the issue have commended the committee’s work on the landmarks ordinance over the past few months. They have said the process has been fair and an example of democracy at work.