Welcome to Rome, where the Historic Preservation Commission has more authority than the City Commission over our economic well being. Since when are aluminum clad windows more historic than better, more energy-efficient vinyl replacement windows? (They are not!) Since when is stacked stone that has been used since before the days of Jesus not historic? (It is!) But they didn’t get permission first from the HPC. Since when is it historic to put knitted sweaters around our downtown trees? (It isn’t!) Couldn’t the homeless use the sweaters? Since when did the HPC get the authority to tell a landlord what he or she should be charging for rent, because of their outdated construction-material rules? (They don’t!)
Years ago the HPC was set up as an advisory commission to help property owners in historic districts keep their homes and the homes in the surrounding neighborhood stay historic when remodeling was needed. If a homeowner in the historic district was going to use some material while remodeling that wasn’t approved by the HPC, a homeowner could appeal to the HPC, and if the homeowner had a good reason and it helped the value of the property, the HPC approved (sometimes reluctantly, but still approved!). These days, even if you have valid reasons for your remodeling and it doesn’t fit their laws (oops, I mean rules, only the City Commission can make laws), they turn down your request. You can’t even appeal to the City Commission. I love living in Rome. In the 45 years I have lived here, we have made great social and economic progress, but it seems lately we have been letting the Historic Preservation Commission hold us back from progressing even further.
Editor’s note: The Historic Preservation Commission does not dictate rent levels. Also, the appeal process with the HPC is for the property owner to wait six months and re-submit, or to file a case with Superior Court.