Protests over a particular shade of blue helped spur the revision of the code governing the Genoa Historic District Commission and the possibility that the Genoa Town Board would once again be represented on the Commission.
Photo by Kurt Hildebrand.
Every decade or so, the Genoa Historic District Commission enters the spotlight. The commission will be 50 years old next year, and it appears it will remain as constituted for the time being.
The latest debate has been ongoing for a couple of years and started a few years back when the owners of a downtown building painted it blue without allowing historic commissioners to review it for appropriateness.
That prompted a code revision that altered the procedure so any request by a business for a building permit, for instance to paint the exterior of a commercial structure, would be routed to the historic commission.
The question as to why the commission would not be part of the elected Genoa Town Board was raised during the approval of that revision.
While Genoa Town Board members eagerly sought to join with the historic district board in some manner, that might not be entirely mutual.
When the district and the commission were first approved in 1974, it was made up of the three town board members and three county appointees. It’s only job was to review changes to commercial structures in the district and rule on their appropriateness.
In 1995, few years after the town board was subjected to a recall effort, commissioners voted to remove the board members from the district and increase the size to five. The goal was to provide some maneuvering room so district commissioners could make their decisions based solely on the criteria set forth in the code.
The goal is to catch those instances where something would be inappropriate for the town commercial district before people put in the work. That primogeniture is so critical that one commissioner suggested even applying at Community Development for a permit could be interpreted as some level of acquiescence.
When Verizon sought to put up a camouflaged cell tower behind the fire station, the historic district’s denial prompted abandonment of the plan. People wondered why the historic commission would get first crack at that cell tower, but that’s how the process works.