Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has vetoed the contentious landmarks ordinance a week after the Metro Council passed the bill.
The legislation amended several provisions of the four decade old law, and allowed a majority vote in the council to overturn a decision made by the city's landmarks commission. Despite stiff opposition from preservationists and outcry from a handful of lawmakers it passed the council by a 16-7 vote.
In a letter to city lawmakers, Fischer agreed with preservationists, who argued the ordinance politicized the process and violated the separation of powers between the council and mayor's office.
“The positive impacts of our current, nationally recognized landmarks law far outweigh the need to change this four decade precedent for our city,” he says. “Additionally, the citizens of Louisville have clearly told me that they fear the landmarks process potentially could be politicized through Metro Council involvement.I cannot support a law that allows a simple majority of the Metro Council to overturn the standards based review of the Landmarks Commission.”
Earlier this week, the bill's sponsor, Councilman David Yates, D-25, told WFPL he was confident that Fischer would not veto the measure. He said that the council had the necessary two-thirds vote to override the veto.
“One thing I've learned in politics is you don't count your chickens before they've hatched,” says Yates.
Yates says that three of the members who missed the original vote have pledged to support the legislation, but that assumed the original count that passed the ordinance will withstand the veto.
“One thing I won't do is guess what another elected official will do,” says Yates. “Based on my conversations with my colleagues at that time and after the bill they were supportive of it and felt this was good legislation, despite some pressures they had gotten. Now whether they'll cave to that pressure, I don't know.”
The council has never countermanded a mayoral veto since merger of city and county governments, and preservationists are confident that won't change.
“It's not uncommon in veto situations for a lawmaker who originally voted for a bill to go along with wishes of the mayor. I'm not sure all 16 will stay with it,” says preservationist attorney Steve Porter, who lobbied Fischer to veto the bill. “And I'm not at all convinced two of the three missing will do so either.”
Other changes to the landmarks ordinance required at least 101 of the signatures to start the historic designation process come from the council district in which the building resides or a one-mile radius surrounding the site. It also increased how many residents and area business close to the historic structure who are notified about the process.
This is Fischer's second veto since taking office. The first was made last year when the mayor rejected changes to the city's fireworks ordinance.