The Belle Meade Historic Zoning Commission—formed by the Belle Meade City Commission earlier this year—met Nov. 25 for a planning meeting before presenting a draft of rules on home demolitions and construction to the public.
Earlier this year, the city placed a moratorium on tear downs in the city until the commission can develop guidelines for what would be considered historic in the city. Lyle Patterson, the assistant city manager and director of building and zoning for the city of Belle Meade, previously said the city has seen about 30 homes demolished in the past two years and replaced with modern styles, which commission officials have deemed inconsistent with the area’s character. The moratorium is expected to be lifted in mid-December.
The city is working with Phil Thomason, a preservation planner for Thomason and Associates, to draft the guidelines.
“We landed here because we were being overwhelmed with speculative houses of substandard design, that’s why we’re here,” commission board member Ron Farris said during the meeting. “I want to be sure we maintain that original guidance ... we’re here to protect the city from those types of developments.”
One proposed guideline suggests that homes 50 years or older will need to have approval from the commission before demolitions or additions can occur. Additionally, newly constructed homes will also need to have plans approved before building can begin to ensure the homes are in line with the area’s character and style.
Results of a city survey released Nov. 14 show about 62% of homes in Belle Meade are at least 50 years old, meaning the majority of homes in the city would be considered historic. About 350 homes, or 29.7%, were built in 1970 or later, and there are about 90 empty lots in the city, according to the survey.
Another proposed guideline suggests there could also be rules for homes of historic significance, or homes that the commission designates as significant to the community. The commission has not yet compiled a list of which homes in Belle Meade would be considered historically significant.
A public meeting will be held Dec. 10 at 3 p.m. for residents to learn more about the commission guidelines. For more background on the commission and the city’s efforts to preserve its character here.