College Park neighborhood recommended for historical designation

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

March 21, 2013 at 11 p.m.
Updated March 21, 2013 at 10:22 p.m.

The mid-century architecture and tree-lined streets in Victoria's College Park neighborhood could soon have a historical title.

The eight-member Victoria Planning Commission unanimously gave the designation preliminary approval Thursday for the almost 76-year-old subdivision surrounding St. Joseph High School.

Melvin Lack, a College Park homeowner, led the effort.

Although he left the meeting without indicating why he was seeking the designation, Lack said he received overwhelming support.

He mailed letters to each home in the district with the notice that those unreturned would be considered for the historic district.

He said 32 voted for, two against and two undecided.

Nancy Baass, a College Park homeowner, said the commission assuaged her concerns about strict regulations that could limit property owners' rights.

"I wanted to make sure it didn't put restrictions on us," she said. "I didn't want it to become some place where they limit the number of cars you can park in your driveway or parking a boat or an R.V. in your driveway. That didn't seem to be a problem."

The neighborhood has been in the spotlight lately as the city agreed to close a block of De Leon Street, one of the arteries into College Park, to make room for St. Joseph High School's growth. The designation would not affect the closure.

The City Council will vote April 16 whether to accept the planning commission's recommendation.

Planning Services Director Jared Mayfield said only two rules come with the historical title: It prohibits manufactured housing and billboards within the district.

Planning Commissioner Louise Hull Patillo recommended moving the northern boundary to Hiller Street from Airline Road, which would exclude businesses along that stretch of Airline Road from the restrictions.

"It appeared that because there are some commercial properties, it might not be as good a fit for the district," she said.

That stretch includes a convenient store, dialysis treatment facility, a mosque and a used car lot.

However, there are some older homes in that section between Hiller Street and Airline Road, and Hull Patillo said she did not want to exclude them.

"It's great for us to recognize the historic properties in Victoria," Hull Patillo said, adding that homes are usually considered historic after they have been around for 50 years.

The designation would prohibit the car lot from selling manufactured homes, not recreational vehicles.

Mayfield said there are currently five billboards in and around the neighborhood, and no permits in place for future ones.

If the City Council approves the district, it would be Victoria's fourth, alongside Victoria Heights, the Original Townsite and Nine Rivers.

"It just puts a local recognition of them being a historic neighborhood," Mayfield said. "It's not unusual for cities to have several historic districts. Galveston has five."

Property owners would still be able to build, remodel and modify their homes or businesses as they do today, he said.



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