Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

House Move Now a Big Issue Historic Preservation Commission Must Rehear City's Request

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

House Move Now a Big Issue Historic Preservation Commission Must Rehear City's Request

Article excerpt

Jacksonville's Historic Preservation Commission must rehear a city request to move a 1939-era home at a planned historic park in Mandarin after a city administrator said mistakes were made when the panel denied the request in late March.

The Jacksonville Parks, Recreation and Entertainment Department wants to move the home at the Walter Jones Historic Park on Mandarin Road to make way for construction of a museum. But the commission voted 4-3 March 24 to deny after member Bill Jeter said he had problems with the plan, even though the request had vocal support of the Mandarin Museum and Historical Society.

But when recreation department head Bill Potter said he learned of irregularities in the debate preceding the denial, he asked the commission, at its April 28 meeting, to review the matter.

Potter said Jeter received a note from an audience member prior to the March 24 vote, and sent a position paper against the project to commission members the day before. Neither was disclosed during the hearing, and Potter said they should have been. He also said the commission never allowed his staff or the audience to rebut questions Jeter asked of the city's historic planner after the public hearing.

"We asked that in the spirit of fairness to all parties and due to the procedural failings on the part of the last hearing, that they rescind the vote and reschedule a fresh hearing on our application," he said. "The major concerns were the exparte communication . . . that gave the appearance that there was not going to be an impartial hearing, that minds may have been made up."

The decision to review the museum proposal surprised historical society president Jim Towart. But he said he's pleased the commission will be able to hear all of the reasons the historic society believes the new museum should be built.

"I didn't know it would be serious enough to overturn," he said. …

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