By Talbert Toole
The Water Valley Board of Aldermen held a special meeting Tuesday night where it unanimously passed a resolution to create the town’s first Historic Preservation Commission.
The resolution and creation of a commission would allow the city of Water Valley to designate one house as a landmark, with notice to the owner, along with creating historic districts consisting of 10 to 15 buildings. The Aldermen look to appoint members to the commission within 30 days.
According to the resolution, the qualifications to be a member of the commission are strict. The reading of the resolution stated it must have a minimum of five members with a maximum of nine. Those who apply for the position should have a background in either law, real estate, history, or a variation of the three.
Once the board advertises the intent to establish a commission in the town’s local newspaper, it has three weeks to allow those interested to apply for a position.
The board added one provision to the resolution — a moratorium that would last for 180 days while the city and board establish the Historic Preservation Commission. The moratorium would prevent any substantial demolition or alteration to any buildings in the existing downtown commercial or historic district. During the moratorium, the planning commission and the building inspector, Trea Magee, will not accept or review any applications for such reasons.
The board’s decision to create a commission came after Oxford business owner Terry Warren was denied a demolition permit Monday night. Warren, who owns two buildings on Main Street in Water Valley, planned to demolish the buildings because his beer ordinance appeal was denied last year; however, the board voted 3-2 to change the ordinance last Friday.
Warren previously told Hottytoddy.com that even though the board switched positions on the ordinance, it was too late for him to try to salvage placing a restaurant in his buildings.
When Warren purchased the buildings in 2017, the beer ordinance had been in effect for three years.
Kagan Coughlin, board member and owner of several buildings in the Water Valley downtown area, said he’s been asked several times why would he allow someone else to tell him what he can and cannot do to his property.
Coughlin said the historical aspects of the town are not owned by any individual.
“The uses for those structures have outlived everyone in town and I hope they continue to,” he said.