Metro councilman wants to restructure historic commission
Metro Councilman Ryan Heck is working on an ordinance that could lead to a restructuring of the East Baton Rouge Parish Historic Preservation Commission. "If they were on mission, they really would have a lot of value," Heck says. "They really haven't been doing, in my opinion, a fantastic job." He says the commission has been using one tool—the ability to issue certificates of appropriateness for work in historic districts—"to be obstructionists instead of facilitators." "That's the crux of their power," he says. "Whether they continue to have that power, or if that falls within another group, that's what we're studying right now." Part of the the entity's mission is obtaining grants, but Heck says after speaking with the Planning Commission and Parish Attorney's Office, he has so far learned of only a single grant for $10,000 that the HPC has obtained. He says the Metro Council, which appoints the commission, could do a better job of ensuring a diversity of viewpoints. "There needs to be an architect on there," he says. "There needs to be a developer on there. But there also needs to be someone that has a master's in art history, or whatever's appropriate." Heck plans to present his proposal, which still is a work in progress, to the HPC before introducing it at a council meeting, possibly next month. HPC Chairwoman Carolyn Bennett could not be reached in time for this report. Read more about the controversy over the HPC's role here. —David Jacobs
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