The Louisville Metro Council passed an ordinance changing the city’s long-time landmarks process on a 16-7 vote Thursday night.
Most council members agreed the ordinance is significantly improved from the nearly 40-year-old measure the city has been using, but the controversial provision giving Metro Council a chance to overturn a Landmarks Commission decision has been debated since Councilman David Yates introduced the ordinance in February.
That provision passed, despite last effort pleas by some council members and an attempt to compromise by Councilman Brent Ackerson.
Yates said now if the appointed Landmarks Commission–which currently grants landmarks status–makes a decision that’s not in the best interest of the community, the council can step in.
“Sometimes people don’t follow the rules the way they’re supposed to be done. And the way we handle that is we have checks and balances and we have oversight,” said Yates.
The council amended the ordinance to say a regular majority of council members need to vote to challenge a Landmarks Commission decision, which would then start a review process. The ordinance as introduce Thursday would have required a super-majority of council members to trigger that process.
While some argued only in extreme circumstances would the council need to overturn the commission, Councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh said there is already enough oversight in the landmarks process.
“I think we’re making a mistake. There are huge changes that are better about this ordinance and I appreciate those, but I do not support anything that would bring that decision back to this body for approval,” she said.
The ordinance also requires a majority of the 200 petition signatures necessary to request a landmarks hearing, to come from residents living in the council district, or within a one mile radius of the proposed site.