A property owner seeking a building he owns be included in Hillsville’s historic district described the request as a benefit for him and the town. Owner John Johnson presented council at the June 13 meeting information on the National Register of Historic Places Program. The property being considered is located at 173 South Main Street, which is outside of the current historic district.
Johnson told the council he owns three historic properties, one of which is located in Georgia. Since he rents the Hillsville property, it is considered a business and is eligible for a 20 percent tax deduction if the property is on the National Historic Register.
“This doesn’t limit me or the city in any way,” said Johnson. “It’s a win-win for myself and the town. I think it’s a boost for the city for citizens to take advantage of tax deductions to improve their properties.” He noted other cities had supported historic homes being preserved and suggested tours could be an added draw for the Labor Day Flea Market and Gun Show with proceeds benefiting charitable groups. Johnson told council homeowners may apply for grants if their homes qualify for the Register.
Johnson said his impression was historic buildings had been examined in connection with the “Main Street America” program and not as historic property to qualify for Federal restoration monies. He said he felt there was quite a few homes in Hillsville which could qualify and noted one Historical Society publication concerning doctors homes in the County outlined multiple homes.
“There is no cost to the city but there is a cost,” Johnson said. He explained property owners must pay for the Federal application and verifying eligibility through the Virginia Department of Historical Resources. Johnson stressed his request was just for permission to join the town’s historic register and said council could expand the boundary of the historic district to include more than just his home. The matter was taken under advisement for further discussion by council.
Laurel Ridge and Briarleigh Court Manager Michelle Furr and Maintenance Manager Rick Furr talked with council about a recent project which installed a mass water meter at the Laurel Ridge property. She said that while a similar project which replaced individual water meters at Briarleigh had worked well, the same approach “spelled financial disaster” for Laurel Ridge residents.
Furr said the 56 homes at Laurel Ridge are subject to government subsidized rent and the loss of individual meters was bad on two counts. The first being re-writing all existent contracts with the government and the second being splitting the costs equally when individual metering wasn’t fair to residents on limited incomes who are careful of their water usage.
She said the project seems to be a perennial one which resurfaces with new town councils who are unaware of the situation and noted the town’s concerns about water loss (which are tracked through the difference between the mass meter and individual meters) are regularly addressed by in-house maintenance which replaces leaking water lines.
Furr suggested leaving the mass meter in place at Laurel Ridge but not replacing individual meters. The understanding being any difference in the two would be paid by Laurel Ridge residents. No action was taken on the recommendation but Mayor Gregory Crowder indicated the town would work with the Furrs on the matter.
In other action, Town Manager Retta Jackson reported the town will receive $45,500 in grant money to purchase a new sanitation vehicle. Todd Jennings was presented the Employee Service Award recognizing 30 years of service to the Town.
According to activity numbers from the Hillsville Police Department (HPD) between May 19 to June 8, the department assisted 55 motorists and conducted 39 criminal investigations. The HPD performed 14 accident investigations; 569 business checks and 33 house checks; 6 welfare checks; had 50 false or unfounded calls; served 35 warrants; issued 189 traffic summons and 48 traffic warnings.
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on Twitter@CarrollNewsDave.