Historic commission called to ‘mandatory’ meeting
Avondale Estates Mayor Ed Rieker is taking more of an interest in the Historic Preservation Commission these days, and that’s not sitting well with the board’s chairman.
Rieker has attended meetings in May, June and July. This Wednesday, July 23, there’s an item on the work session agenda that says, “Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) & Architectural Review Board (ARB) Discussion of policies, resources and community interaction.”
According to an email obtained by Decaturish, the mayor told members that attendance at the meeting is “mandatory.” The meeting was requested by board, according to the email. The Historic Preservation Commission and the Architectural Review Board both have the same members and meet on the first Monday of every month.
“As your (Historic Preservation Commission/Architectural Review Board) has requested, the (Board of Mayor and Commissioners) will discuss policies, implementation, resources and community interaction as it relates to the HPC/ARB,” the mayor wrote. “The BOMC will provide direction on these aspects of serving on the HPC/ARB. As this is an important meeting, attendance is mandatory.”
Rieker has not spoken to Decaturish since April. A reporter left messages with him, but they have not been returned.
HPC Chairman Jim Glover said he really wasn’t sure about the purpose of the meeting.
“Who knows,” he said. “… I don’t know what they’re doing.”
The chairman said Rieker hasn’t been kind to HPC members when he’s showed up at their meetings.
“He’s been kind of rude, basically,” Glover said.
Glover said Rieker took an interest in the HPC because of an application filed by Avondale Estates resident Betty Jones. Jones wanted to replace a window in her home on Lakeview Place. The commission had told Jones that she would need to try to maintain the window, as it was believed to be original to the building. Jones returned in May, with Mayor Rieker, providing proof that the window had actually been replaced years earlier. The commission granted her request.
Rieker scolded the HPC during the meeting, Glover said.
“He said, ‘We have known the Joneses and they’ve been high standing members of the community and anyone should be ashamed to challenge them,'” Glover said, recalling Rieker’s remarks.
Meeting minutes aren’t available. Jones told Decaturish that she has a high regard for the mayor and said she didn’t think he was treating the HPC members harshly.
“He was questioning something,” Jones said. “I don’t think he was being too hard.”
Jones said there’ve been numerous complaints about the HPC/ARB from members of the community. She said she’d like to have her home bumped down to a lower historic tier. That would make it easier to make changes or additions to her home, but added she doesn’t currently have any plans to renovate.
“I have a lot of confidence in our mayor and our board of commissioners and they will do whatever it takes to keep people happy in the city if it can be done,” she said.
At that same May meeting, Architectural Review Board members also approved an application Rieker filed for the Tudor Square building, which he owns.
“He wanted to make it look like a country store on the front,” Glover said. “I said, ‘Honestly, that looks like something you would find in Helen, Ga. or the mountains.’ They did grant it, but we had some stipulations. It’s not going to be as country as what they want.”
Glover said the mayor has spoken at the other meetings he’s attended and usually “found something to pick at.”
“One of the times he was there and they talked about the park, Willis Park, and he was like, ‘We can do whatever we want to do. We don’t have to ask Historic Preservation Commission for permission,'” Glover said. “You don’t have to, but … that is part of the historic fabric of Avondale. Even if you don’t care what we say, you should seek our opinion on it.”
The July 23 work session will be held at 5:30 pm at Avondale Estates City Hall, located at 21 North Avondale Plaza. Meetings are open to the public.