COVINGTON - County commissioners recently took a big step to preserve Newton County's past by passing an ordinance forming a historic preservation commission.
The six-member commission will make recommendations to the Board of Commissioners on sites that should be designated by ordinance as historic properties or districts.
Once properties are so designated, owners and occupants will not be allowed to make material changes to the appearance without approval from the commission in the form of a Certificate of Appropriateness.
In addition, the commission will provide recommendations on design requirements for adopted historic districts; nominate historic properties and districts to the state for designation; restore and preserve historic properties acquired by the county; and seek out funding for historic preservation, among other duties.
The commission will also be charged with obtaining certification for Newton County as a Certified Local Government.
The Certified Local Government Program is a preservation partnership between local, state and national governments focused on promoting historic preservation at the grass roots level. The program is jointly administered by the National Park Service and the State Historic Preservation Offices in each state, with each local community working through a certification process to become recognized as a Certified Local Government. CLGs then become active partners in the Federal Historic Preservation Program and the opportunities it provides.
"At nearly every community meeting we held regarding the 2028 Comprehensive Plan, the desire to protect historical resources was mentioned," Senior Planner Scott Sirotkin said. "Adopting a historic preservation ordinance was included in the Short Term Work Program. "We also discovered that for Certified Local Governments there are funding opportunities for preservation, and the first step to becoming certified is adopting an ordinance."
Public hearings will be held on historic designations and Certificates of Appropriateness, he said.
The Board of Commissioners will have final say in which sites should receive historic designations.
Members of the Historic Preservation Commission will be appointed by the chairman of the Board of Commissioners, who may consider nominations by board members.
Members must be citizens of Newton County who have demonstrated a special interest, or have experience or education in history or architecture and preservation of historic resources.
Initial appointees will serve staggered terms, with two members serving one-year; two members serving two years; and two members serving three years.
After initial appointments, members will serve three-year terms. Members may not serve more than two consecutive terms.
The chairman of the commission will vote only in the event of a tie.
The members of the commission have not yet been appointed and a meeting schedule has not been established.
Crystal Tatum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.