It’s Your Building, But …

So, you’re getting ready to paint your house, are you? Do you have the list of approved paint colors?

I don’t mean the handful of paint samples you picked up at the home improvement store. I mean the list compiled by your local Historical Correctness Police.

It may be coming to that.

Last week, Wheeling Historic Landmarks Commission members discussed a proposal for “design review guidelines” for the city’s Centre Market neighborhood. That includes all properties with Market Street addresses between 20th and 24th streets.

According to our story on the commission meeting last week, a survey on the issue was sent to more than 40 property owners in the affected area. About 20 responded. Only six opposed establishing “design review guidelines” for the neighborhood.

“I definitely think there’s enough support here to move to the next level,” commission members were told by Tom Connelly, assistant director of the city’s Economic and Community Development Department.

What’s the next level? It could mean that eventually, Wheeling City Council would adopt design review guidelines for the Centre Market area. After that, building owners would have to seek “certificates of appropriateness” before proceeding with repairs or improvements visible from the street.

Everything from paint colors to window designs would be covered. The idea is to ensure the historic flavor of the neighborhood is maintained.

Now, six objections among 20 survey responses means 30 percent of property owners feel, in effect, that no one ought to be able to tell them what to do with their buildings. But the design review process would allow a majority of property owners to make just such dictates.

Not in America, you say? Our Constitution includes safeguards against majorities ordering minorities around, you say? It also restricts mandates established after people buy property in good faith, you add?

Wrong. One small area, eight buildings in the 2300 block of Chapline Street, already has design review guidelines.

Get ready for the Historical Correctness Police. They may be coming to your neighborhood.

Myer can be reached at: