Dec 7, 2023
3 mins read
3 mins read

City's building plans affected by state historical board ruling

City's building plans affected by state historical board ruling

A state agency has placed a roadblock — perhaps a temporary one — in front of the City of Paris' tentative plans to build a new city hall building.

City Manager Kim Foster said during Thursday's Paris Commission meeting that the State Historic Preservation Office has determined the existing city hall building is historically significant.

That throws a monkey wrench into the city's thoughts to have a new city hall be part of an ambitious $20 million plan in which a new fire station would also be built and the Paris Police Department would be expanding to take up all of the current city hall.

The commission voted in May to apply for a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development loan for the project.

As part of the due diigence on the project before the city proceeds with it, the city's Historic Zoning Board met Nov. 7 and studied the area in question. That local board had no problem with the plans.

Despite that, the state board has ruled the current building is historically significant in part because it is older than 50 years old. In fact, Foster said that state board has suggested the current building should be changed in some way because it "does not fit the historical feel of the rest of downtown," despite the local board's feelings on the matter.

The Downtown Historic District extends from the heart of downtown to the parking lot across from the front of the current city hall.

Foster said the city is in the process of trying to work with that state board to work out a solution to the situation.

In other action during Thursday's meeting:

•  City Attorney James Smith told the commission that a local property owner is hoping to donate a 25-acre piece of property on Industrial Park Road to the Paris-Henry County Industrial Committee.

Because of regulations regarding donations to charitable organizations, the property would need to actually be donated to the city first, with the city then conveying the property to the industrial committee.

Smith said two factors to be considered in the donation would be whether a background check revealed a clean title claim on the property, and whether an environmental assessment on the property was satisfactorily completed.

The commission approved accepting the donation pending the absence of any problems in those two areas. Rob Goad, director of the industrial committee, will meet with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation about the environmental study. If no issues arise, Smith said the city could then quickly quit-claim the property to the industrial committee.

•  Local business owner Mike Weatherford told the commission he would like to see the city look into establishing "property right votes."

Weatherford lives in the rural portion of the county but owns a business and some other properties in the city. Currently, he cannot vote in the city elections because he doesn't live in the city.

"But there are a lot of that own property here, and there could be something that affects us that we would like to have a voice in," Weatherford said. "Let us vote."