By IAN HICKS
Some building owners in the Centre Market area of Wheeling may ask city officials to protect the neighborhood's historic integrity by establishing design review guidelines.
Photo by Ian Hicks
An informational meeting regarding possible design review guidelines for the Centre Market area is set for this Wednesday evening.
The design review process seeks to prevent modifications to the exterior of buildings within defined boundaries that are inconsistent with the neighborhood's historic character. Guidelines are specific to the neighborhood seeking protection and are developed by the building owners themselves, according to members of the city Historic Landmarks Commission.
"This is something for them to create for their own use. ... They're going to participate in the development of their own regulations for the proposed district," said commission Chairman C.J. Kaiser.
An informational meeting is planned for 6 p.m. Wednesday in the basement of St. Alphonsus Catholic Church. All property owners in the proposed district - which includes all buildings along Market Street between 20th and 24th streets - have been notified of the meeting, commission members said.
A majority of property owners within those boundaries must agree to the guidelines before the commission would recommend City Council enact them. Public hearings also would be required throughout the process.
If guidelines ultimately are imposed, property owners would then have to obtain a certificate of appropriateness from the Historic Landmarks Commission to proceed with any facade renovations or new construction. Such a certificate requires a waiting period of up to 45 days.
Design review for the Centre Market area first came up almost a year ago when antique store owner Susan Shoemaker and baker Elizabeth Vdovjak approached the commission to support the idea.
Wheeling has been through this process just once before. In 2011, City Council approved design review guidelines for a row of eight houses in the 2300 block of Chapline Street.
Although a majority of owners on the row supported the design rules, there was some opposition from others who claimed they had been under the impression they could opt out.
One woman said her homeowner's insurance carrier dropped her because of the new guidelines. Although she eventually found a new company to insure her building, she ultimately put it up for sale. And another man said he didn't buy the property in order to be told what he could do with it.
Historic Landmarks Commission member Rebecca Swords is familiar with the process, as she owns a building on Chapline Street Row and was a staunch supporter of design review there. She said most of the Centre Market area building owners she's spoken to seem to be in favor of the idea.
"It does increase your property values," Swords said of design review.