Historic district commissioners seek better way to list rules

There is a need to clearly inform prospective property owners in the downtown historic district of the area’s restrictions and requirements, according to members of the Historic District Commission.

Commissioner Darnell Hawkins said that the commission needs to produce a one-page information sheet that clearly specifies everything that historic district property owners need to know.

“We need something that can be easily read and that can be handed out in real estate offices and the department of inspection and zoning,” Hawkins said. “I know we have a handbook but nobody is going to go through that whole book.”

Zoning official Lakisha Hill said that an information sheet as described by Hawkins would be helpful.

Frederick Jackson — the owner of Creative Solutions at 313 W. Barraque St. on the edge of the historic district — was recently issued a stop-work order by the Pine Bluff Inspection and Zoning Department after it determined a metal addition he was in the process of building on his property ran afoul of historic district rules.

Evidence presented by the inspection and zoning department said that Jackson received an unofficial Certificate of Appropriateness designation for the metal addition from Commissioner Dee Herring-Gatlin, which was used to obtain a building permit.

The commission ultimately voted at a recent meeting to lift the stop-work order and retroactively approve the metal addition after determining that Jackson’s business, which was built in the early 1970s, is a non-contributing structure.

The commission considers structures within the historic district that are not in themselves of a historic nature to be non-contributing, while structures that are actually historic and contribute to the area’s designation are considered to be contributing structures.

The commission, in Jackson’s case, found that historic preservation rules for his non-contributing structure do not need to be as rigid as those for contributing structures.

Jackson expressed frustration with not being informed by Realtors of what would be required of him prior to purchasing the Barraque Street property.

“I probably wouldn’t have bought that property if I had known,” Jackson said during the hearing.