The area is historic

Published 10:20 am Tuesday, September 26, 2017

While we commend Robert “Bobby” Martin and his wife, Sherry, for their efforts in helping establishing an organization to preserve historic Farmville, setting up the historic district and seeking to keep the historic element relevant in the district, we completely disagree with the contention that the area “is no longer historic.”

It’s comparing apples to oranges to think that the same concept is applicable when, on one hand, homes and buildings are renovated — not torn down or removed — to accommodate for more tenants and separate living quarters, and on the other hand one seeks to remove or demolish a home — of four or even more — to build larger, new buildings.

Using the premise of the area not being historic anymore, the Martins are seeking to remove four historic homes that house only a handful of people, and in the same area, construct a 95,000-square-foot, five-story student housing complex that can accommodate up to 195 people.

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In an interview with leaders of Farmville: This Place Matters — an organization in opposition to the rezoning requests — Julie Ross said the area was still historic, and we agree with her. “We are getting historic tax credits. Matt King is getting historic tax credits … every time he does something to one of these historic houses,” she said.

“Just because you put up vinyl siding or you change a house does not mean it’s not historic. Just because I put in a new kitchen in my 200-year-old house — does that make it not historic?”

The answer is no. Students and residents living in the area live in many historic homes between and around High and Buffalo streets.

“Just because you’ve made some changes, that doesn’t mean your house is not historic,” Ross said.

Such a move, we argue, to approve the requests, would support the Martins’ contention that the area would be no longer historic — removing four historic homes and putting brick, mortar and asphalt in its place.

There’s no doubt the area in question remains historic. Homes in the area in question haven’t been torn down to make way for apartment complexes or other commercial-style buildings. That kind of proposal hasn’t reared its head yet, until now.

It remains clear to us that the Martins’ project, along with that of Walk2Campus Properties to rezone 37 of their respective properties from R-3 Residential to R-3A Residential — with the added request to vacate the existing density requirement of the zone — would do nothing short of creating the possibility of eliminating and destroying history.

We call on both the planning commission and the town council to not let this happen.