Historic Landmarks Commission To Move Ahead With Design Review

Enough Centre Market-area property owners favor protecting the neighborhood’s historic integrity to justify adopting design review guidelines, Wheeling Historic Landmarks Commission members determined Thursday.

The proposed district includes all properties with Market Street addresses between 20th and 24th streets. An informal survey went out about a month ago to more than 40 people whose properties could be affected. Only six among more than 20 who returned the survey expressed opposition to the idea, according to Tom Connelly, assistant director of Wheeling’s Economic and Community Development Department.

“I definitely think there’s enough support here to move to the next level,” Connelly told commission members.

If City Council ultimately decides to adopt design review, property owners within the district would have to apply for a certificate of appropriateness before undertaking any exterior renovation visible from the street. According to law, council may enact such guidelines unless “50 percent of the ownership interest” within the district objects.

Rules can govern anything from windows to moulding or paint color, and likely would be based on the U.S. Department of the Interior’s guidelines for historic structures.

But commission members plan to hold multiple meetings to get input from the neighborhood on the preferred guidelines before making a recommendation to council.

The first of those meetings likely will take place in September or October, with a date and place yet to be finalized.

Proponents of design review say the guidelines protect against demolition of historic buildings and tend to stabilize or increase property values. Opponents, however, believe the rules are too restrictive.