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In an effort to keep historic preservation as a priority in Jefferson City as the community continues developing, city staff have developed the Jefferson City Historic Preservation Plan as part of the city's Comprehensive Plan.

The completed plan, which has been in the works since September 2018, was approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission during their Thursday meeting. As the keepers of the Comprehensive Plan, Planning and Zoning is the final approval of the plan.

The historic plan will be adopted as part of the city's Comprehensive Plan, which is also in the middle of an update by city staff. It serves as a more detailed section of the full plan but will remain in place whether or not the new Comprehensive Plan is eventually approved by the commission.

The Historic Preservation Plan will serve as a document of recommendations to guide historic preservation efforts throughout the city. Like the overall Comprehensive Plan, the historic plan does not force any changes. They are only recommendations.

"This is a guide for all of us to use to be on the same page. These are recommendations that we can all use moving forward with historic preservation efforts," City Planner Ahnna Nanoski said. "So everything listed in here will go through the appropriate processes once this plan is adopted. This is just us saying, 'Yes, we're going to move forward, potential in these ways.'"

Planning Manager Eric Barron said the plan serves as a "road map."

"It does give a good road map to the future, things to consider as historic preservation is looked at within the community," Barron said. "You don't have to be in favor of everything in there."

Nanoski presented the highlights of the 188-page plan, which was created by the Pennsylvania-based group Heritage Strategies LLC, to the commission Thursday.

She explained the five main goals of the plan, as well as highlights of strategies, or the action items to make the goals reality, within the plan.

The five main goals of the plan are:

Reinforce the role of Jefferson City's historic core plays in the city's identity and economy, emphasizing quality of place.

Activate and revitalize Jefferson City's historic commercial centers and residential neighborhoods.

Connect Jefferson City's historic core to outlying suburban neighborhoods.

Stimulate private investment in revitalizing historic areas through the city's historic preservation, neighborhood services and planning programs.

Engage residents and visitors with information and programming that reinforces community identity and tells the city's stories.

While there are many strategies outlined in the full plan, Nanoski mentioned some of the overarching themes, including Jefferson City's Historic Preservation Program, planning and development, historic commercial centers, strengthening historic neighborhoods, and welcoming visitors and storytellers.

Within the theme of general historic preservation are suggestions like continuing the use of the Certified Local Government program and CLG grants, and continuing to survey historic neighborhoods.

The theme of planning and development includes recommendations such as updating the Comprehensive Plan and strengthening connections between historic areas and outlying suburban areas through enhancements like trails, parks and signage.

Other suggestions in the plan include possible additional overlay districts, revising the dangerous building regulations to include a process for addressing demolition by neglect, and continuing to use community events to attract and engage visitors as well as residents.

"We think that while they may not all occur, they give a good guide as to what to pursue into the future," Barron said.

Barron said one of the key recommendations in his opinion is surveying the city to figure out what is historic and what is not, so the community comes to an agreement on what is or is not historic.

Mary Schantz, the chair of the Historic Preservation Commission, spoke to the committee in favor of approval on the plan. The commission unanimously approved the plan at an Oct. 22 meeting.

"We believe that we need this road map for our city," Schantz said to the committee. "We think it's going to help our city leaders, staff and all the various boards and commissions that are going to be impacted by this plan in their work, to assure that we give appropriate treatment to our city's historic buildings, neighborhoods and the historic assets of Jefferson City."

Donna Deetz, president of the Historic City of Jefferson, and local business owner Holly Stitt, also spoke in favor of the plan.

Stitt had to demolish one of her buildings, Avenue HQ at 623 E. Capitol Ave., due to extensive damage from the May 22 tornado. She has also purchased other historic properties in the city.

"Being one that had to take a building down that I really didn't want to, we need to have something here," Stitt said. "At least it's a start."

No one spoke in opposition of the plan. The commission approved it with a unanimous vote, to the excitement of city staff.

"It's very much needed in our community to have a good guide that we're all on board with, moving forward with historic preservation efforts," Nanoski said.

City staff will give an informational presentation about the adopted plan Monday during the Jefferson City Council meeting.

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