Landmarks Veto

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OFFICE OF THE MAYOR LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY GREG FISCHER MAYOR August 2, 2012 Dear President King, Metro Council members and citizens: For nearly 40 years, the process to designate an historic building a local landmark has served Louisville and its citizens well. Our landmarks process preserves buildings that help tell a unique story that belongs only to Louisville. The landmark process has been a catalyst for community and neighborhood revitalization and a core component of our economic growth
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  WWW.LOUISVILLEKY.GOV  LOUISVILLE METRO HALL 527 WEST JEFFERSON STREET LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY 40202 502.574.2003 GREG FISCHER MAYOR OFFICE OF THE MAYOR LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY August 2, 2012Dear President King, Metro Council members and citizens:For nearly 40 years, the process to designate an historic building a local landmark hasserved Louisville and its citizens well. Our landmarks process preserves buildings that help tell aunique story that belongs only to Louisville. The landmark process has been a catalyst forcommunity and neighborhood revitalization and a core component of our economic growth asold buildings and their architectural details from the past are transformed into restaurants,housing, art galleries and new and expanding businesses that create jobs. The look and feel of these buildings is a central element to the authenticity of our city.Preservation has played a critical role in the exciting transformation of our city. OurMain and Market Street buildings give Louisville a heralded presence like none other in thecountry. A few years ago, the city stood to lose an entire block along East Market Street if notfor an effort to landmark those properties. That decision resulted in millions of dollars ininvestment and a new, thriving district now known as “NuLu” - home of exciting localrestaurants, shops and galleries that are receiving accolades both locally and nationally fromcitizens and visitors.From Museum Row on West Main to the African-American Heritage Center in WesternLouisville, from the Farnsley-Moreman House in Pleasure Ridge Park to the Little Loom Housein Iroquois, and from Locust Grove on Blakenbaker to Blackacre Farm near Jeffersontown, ourcity celebrates and honors its past, as we look to build a great future for the next generation.Other cities have razed most of their heritage  –  and it painfully shows. We are fortunate to haveso much connection to our history through our built environment. Our sense of place contributesdirectly to our quality of life. The landmarks process is not perfect. A recent example is the Bauer site on BrownsboroRoad (formerly Azalea restaurant), which was planned to be a new pharmacy and other retailshops until some citizens advocated for, and the Landmarks Commission approved, designatingthe property an historic landmark. Our city  —  and the property owner   —  now have a boardeddecaying structure rather than a vibrant new center delivering services and creating jobs.  WWW.LOUISVILLEKY.GOV  LOUISVILLE METRO HALL 527 WEST JEFFERSON STREET LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY 40202 502.574.2003 While we may have a few examples in different parts of our community where thelandmarks process can be questioned, we cannot underestimate its tremendous positivecumulative impact on our city. Landmarking is a standards-based process and is rarely used  –   averaging twice a year for the last 40 years. Landmarking should continue to be a special andunique event reserved for those structures that clearly meet the standards, preserve our past, andmeet the needs of our community going forward. Our landmarking process has served us wellfor more than a generation  –  and preserved our sense of place for generations to come.After much deliberation and dialogue with a broad cross section of our community, I havedecided to veto the ordinance passed by the Metro Council. The positive impacts of our current,nationally-recognized landmarks law far outweigh the need to change this four-decade precedentfor our city. Additionally, the citizens of Louisville have clearly told me that they fear thelandmarks process potentially could be politicized through Metro Council involvement. I cannotsupport a law that allows a simple majority of the Metro Council to overturn the standards-basedreview of the Landmarks Commission. The ordinance as presented also contains severalconstitutional and legal issues relative to the separation of powers and due process.I share the concern of many on the Metro Council that the Commission sometimesoversteps its boundaries in its effort to preserve at the cost of the greater good. During the pastfew months, valuable changes to the landmarks process were proposed and adopted by councilthat would make it more transparent and robust, including more input from impacted neighbors,greater notice to property owners, and a longer more deliberate process. I request theCommission to adopt and pursue those measures.Vetoes should be rare, and this is only my second one as Mayor. I take this actionbecause I believe that Louisville has tremendous “soul” - manifested by our people and ourplace, created by the natural beauty that has been endowed to us and by the many generationswho have come before. Landmarking is a process that advances our authenticity.My administration appreciates the many hours of work and debate dedicated to thisdiscussion the last few months. Our city is better for the robust conversation.Sincerely   ,Greg FischerMayor
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