Right off, I want to let you know how much I enjoyed (if that’s the word for it) the article on Roe vs. Wade [ACE, January 21]. I’m “Nadine” [the woman who was held in a mental ward and received electroconvulsive therapy as a teenager after a pre-Roe v. Wade abortion]. I’ve meant a dozen times to give you a call-you know how it goes. I talked with several people who were moved by your report, and they didn’t know I was Nadine-about lost their dandruff when I told them. One person said he was glad I’d told him because he had read the article and thought that you’d surely made up Nadine’s story. mHmmm!
Guaranteed anonymity was the condition specified by each person interviewed for the Roe v. Wade anniversary article-for a variety of reasons. We respected their wishes for confidentiality, but in no way considered this license to embellish or alter any of their stories. Only identifying characteristics were removed for the sake of privacy.
I too live in Aylesford Neighborhood and am glad to see ACE’s continuing coverage of this issue. I’m sick of being branded “pro-development” and “anti-preservation” just because I don’t agree with the proposed historic zoning that’s being crammed down our throats by the neighborhood association (who, by the way, does not speak for all of us). For the record, I’m just for less government, not more, in all our lives. I am NOT anti-neighborhood. I am not anti-community. If I were, I wouldn’t choose to live where I do. I just think this proposed zoning has a lot of problems, and I’m glad to see that at least ACE and Channel 18 aren’t afraid to talk about them.
And the comparison, in an earlier column-which likened dealing with the city’s historic zoning commission as about as much fun as going to the DMV-was dead wrong. The DMV is a FAR more pleasant and efficient experience, and a lot less is at stake.
Without resorting to childish name-calling and personality politics-let’s just say that the staff of Lexington’s historic commission isn’t exactly known for its “customer friendly” attitude-a point that was well-made in your recent editorial which quoted Bettie Kerr’s comments to the Herald-Leader, “laughing” about Harvey Whitehouse’s obnoxious red, white, and blue porch posts he mounted “in protest” of the “tyranny” of H1. I live nearby and drive past them everyday-and I don’t think they’re one bit funny.
On the other hand
I’m disappointed that ACE has not taken a more discernible position on the historic preservation issue in Lexington, and specifically the Aylesford neighborhood. If the editorial in the previous issue is any indication, ACE seems content to merely rehash the issues that have been extensively covered in the Herald-Leader and other media, adding precious little light to the matter. More disturbingly, this article, and others in recent memory, seemed more intent on tossing off clever remarks than advocating a solution to a problem.
Aylesford is just a small part of the city, but it is a prime example of the way unrestrained development can do violence to any established neighborhood. Historic overlay zoning may not be the appropriate solution for a neighborhood of this size and diversity, but one suspects that many of those who oppose it have spent more time listening to scare tactics than visiting Lexington’s existing H-1 districts. Real estate speculators have much to fear from H-1, but those who prefer living in older neighborhoods, who take pride in their homes (whether owners or renters), may stand to benefit.
Rather than using the Aylesford issue as the topic of sarcasm, ACE would be serving its community better by making a case study of the existing historic districts and separating the fact from myth regarding issues such as property values, cost of home maintenance and the like… As for the “luck of the draw,” the idea of the city telling me to fix my porch is not nearly as scary as the possibility that my next door neighbor may want to tear down his house and erect a slum.
Let’s begin by correcting an obvious misconception about H-1: it doesn’t allow the city to TELL you to fix your porch (code enforcement might, if it’s a safety issue); it’ll just tell you HOW. See, this is how rumors and “scare tactics” get started.
ACE has a long and illustrious history of covering development and preservation issues-dating to the demolition of the Ben Snyder Block, Zebra Lounge, and the Graves-Cox Building; an “historic parking lots of the bluegrass” series; proposed uses of the Embry’s/Lowenthal buildings and other issues surrounding historically appropriate infill in the wake of the city’s failed “cultural center”; an “IS Growth Good?” series; and most recently the Aylesford neighborhood “controversy”-which we are using as a jumping off point for a series-in-process that does deal with individual neighborhoods, preservation and development, and what’s right and wrong with H-1 in Lexington and comparable cities. Still, developers argue that we’re anti-development, and the preservationists argue we’re anti-preservation. The truth is we struggle with the same issues the community does: we do our research; conduct our interviews; and then draw conclusions.
That’s the job of an independent press, but so are occasional editorials, guest editorials and media criticism which provide a distinctive voice on an issue. These are opinions. Any personal involvement or predispositions towards an issue are openly acknowledged.
As the editor of ACE and author of the most recent editorial, I have indeed visited every historic district in this town. I’m also the proud owner of a 1904 structure in Aylesford. And in my former position in the non-profit sector of historic preservation, I can also say I received too many tearful phone calls to count from homeowners begging for help and guidance as to how they could afford to provide architectural drawings and make repairs in the manner H-1 dictated for their homes-even though our non profit office had absolutely zero control over H1 zoning.
This is a complex issue, and one Todd Piccirilli-who does not live in Aylesford-is researching even as we speak.
As for cleverness or sarcasm-no apologies-there’s already plenty of media available that’s utterly devoid of both. And somewhere amid the “clever remarks” over the past few months, we have discussed several alternatives that were presented to the City Council by neighborhood residents, such as downzoning and parking permits, which have been successful in protecting several campus neighborhoods, and/or a reduction in the size of the proposed H-1 overlay.
For a FAR more sarcastic, “scary,” treatment of the subject, see March 27’s Letter to the H-L, titled ‘Hysteric Zoning, a Nightmare on Main Street,’ wherein a Carl Parsons is quoted as saying “Like demons from the deep, dark pits of hell, Bettie Kerr and her Board of Architectural Review wreaks misery upon every property owner in the H-1 districts they encounter….” –Editor