Possible Historic District Changes

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Homes in all of Meridian's numerous historical districts could be impacted by a plan to change the districts from nationally registered historic districts to local historic districts, according to Ward 5 Councilman Bobby Smith.

"We kind of got away from the historical side of it and we need to get back in the historical state and make it like it used to be and should be," Smith says.

"There's a huge misconception," Michelle Jones with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. "A lot of people think that national registered districts means that they are protected and things can't just come into the neighborhood and that doesn't do it at all. It's at the local level."

Officials say Meridian City Council would first have to vote to approve the measure, but if they do, Smith says homeowners in the historical districts would have to go before a local preservation commission before making any major changes to the exterior of their property.

"Paint colors will be a portion of it," Smith explains. "You don't want a purple house in an old historical district. You have to take notice to what the old historical district is like. Some of them are from 1800. You just want to do them back like they used to be."

Homes are not the only concern for some though. Pastor John Temple at Poplar Springs Drive Baptist Church says while his church is not currently part of a historical district, he tells Newscenter 11 there is a possibility for that in the future which concerns him.

"There is not really any advantage to our church for us to be a part of the historic district and be under more stringent guidelines that might prevent us from doing a futuristic development we'd like to do," Temple says.

Mayor Cheri Barry was on hand to hear remarks from supporters and opponents. She says she plans to meet with city officials soon to discuss the matter further.

"I think that property owners should make decisions on behalf of themselves as to how they manage property," Barry says. "But certainly we're going to be involved with this."