The Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission wants to create two historic districts in the downtown area. Their efforts to get on the National Register of Historic Places are almost complete, and the city council has been asked to support a new Local Landmark district. Only one potential hurdle remains: winning over the downtown property owners. Wednesday night, the Commission held a public hearing to help inform them what the districts would mean for their properties, and answer questions and take feedback from them.
Cody Right, a consultant for Jacksonville Main Street, started the meeting with a presentation explaining the history of the proposal, and how the districts work. Initially there were supposed to be two meeting scheduled, but they covered much of the same material and so were combined in the interest of time.
The Two Districts
Although they appear similar, the National Register and the Local Landmark District do different things. By having a property in the National Register, property owners can get generous tax credits for approved renovation projects. If the project meets the correct requirements, the owner can get a 20 percent tax credit for the cost of the project. However, the register offer virtually no restrictions if the tax credits are not sought. State agencies have already approved the district for the register, and it is likely to go through in the near future. Still, the Preservation Commission is seeking a resolution of support from the City Council to further strengthen their application.
Creating a Local Landmark district is far more impactful for property owners. This district is created by local ordinance, and can be done with or without the National Register designation. If approved, it would create guidelines for how the appearance of historically significant buildings can be changed. To the greatest extent possible, buildings would need to retain their original styles on facades that face a street. This includes walls which were originally hidden by other structures that have since been demolished.
Both districts only apply to the exterior of the buildings. The insides can be updated and reconfigured to suit the needs of the current owners.
Business owners were skeptical of any measure which might add additional regulatory burdens. Many of the owners who attended the meeting stated that they had not been well informed that the Commission was attempting to create these districts. One man stated plainly that he felt as a property owner, he should have the right to modify his property as he saw fit. He also was concerned that while the National Register offers no restriction today, that new restrictions might be added in the future.
Members of the Historic Preservation Commission worked to put these fears to rest. They explained that while the Commission has rules and standards, they know that every project is different. The limitations of the building itself as wells the financial considerations, all go in to making a final recommendation. As Steve Hochstadt said,” the members of the commission are your neighbors.” There is already a residential historic district in Jacksonville, and few projects are rejected outright. If a project is rejected, owners can still petition the city council for approval. He went on to invite some of the property owners to join the Commission.
Even if the Local Landmark district is created, local building standards for the district will still need to be drafted. Jacksonville Main Street Executive Director Judy Tighe said that some restrictions might actually be loosened in the new standards.
The two districts are scheduled to be discussed at the next Jacksonville City Council meeting. It will start at 6:00 PM on Monday, June 25th, in the Municipal Building, located at 200 West Douglas, Jacksonville. You can watch the full meeting in the player above, or read the National Register and Local Landmark Historic Districts application and FAQ.
Illinois launches veteran-owned small business logo program
Finding veteran-owned local businesses will soon be easier.
The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs is offering a sticker to qualifying veteran-owned businesses. Veteran-owned businesses that are registered with the state, and in good standing, can display the logo in their place of business.
The stickers will be released as part of their annual program that sets aside $300 million in state contracts that only veteran-owned businesses can bid on, Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs spokesman Dave MacDonna said.
“We want to raise public awareness about small businesses that are veteran-owned or large businesses that are veteran-owned,” he said.
MacDonna said that there are many small business owners across the state and this is a way for consumers to have confidence that they’re spending their money with one.
“We want the consumer to realize that they are a trusted and valuable part of the community,” he said.
The program will run in concurrence to the state’s annual Veterans’ Business program, which gives qualified veteran-owned businesses in the state access to more than $300 million in contracts.
For information about the program, visit www2.illinois.gov/cms/business.
Article by Cole Lauterbach with Illinois News Network. For more INN News visit ILnews.org
America’s newspapers are vanishing, with Illinois losing more than most
When a newspaper closes or stops providing local content, it’s bad news for the local community, according to an updated report.
Since 2004, hundreds of local newspapers have closed up shop. The author of a report on this trend said areas without a local paper suffer in a variety of ways.
A study by the Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Media at the University of North Carolina says newspapers have shuttered at a high rate since 2004, many of which happened shortly after the recession in 2008.
“In total, the United States has lost almost 1,800 papers since 2004, including more than 60 dailies and 1,700 weeklies,” the report found. “Roughly half of the remaining 7,112 papers in the country – 1,283 dailies and 5,829 weeklies – are located in small and rural communities. The vast majority – around 5,500 – have circulations under 15,000.”
Illinois lost 157 weekly papers since 2004, most located in suburban Chicago as many merged with larger daily publications like the Chicago Tribune. This is among the highest number of closings in the country.
“Illinois has lost a tremendous number of newspapers,” said professor Penelope Muse-Abernathy, Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics at the University of North Carolina and author of the study. “Newspapers have been the prime, if not sole, source of grassroots coverage of events that affect the quality of life for people in a community.”
The study was updated recently from an initial publication in 2016.
Behind a lack of revenue to support the local publications are decades of declining readership. According to the Pew Research Center, U.S. daily newspaper readership fell by 11 percent in 2017.
Muse-Abernathy said local newspapers have three main benefits to the area they serve: Coverage and oversight of local government; encouragement of regional economic growth and development; and social cohesion.
Often, smaller newspapers will merge with a larger one nearby and then reduce coverage of the area to cut costs, something the report dubs “ghost papers.” Ghost papers offer little to no local content.
“What you have is a paper that was a standalone newspaper in 2004 that has been gradually merged with a parent, usually a large metro daily,” she said. “They first become zoned editions and then tend to morph into an online-only presence with greatly-diminished resources.”
Studies have shown cities without local investigative journalists are more likely to raise taxes and become more inefficient.
The “news deserts” can be found in urban, rural and suburban areas across the nation, but most have one common trait: Poverty.
The report found that locations that had no local newspaper presence had a poverty rate of 18 percent, higher than the 13 percent average nationwide. Residents were also typically older and less educated.
The reason, according to Stanford University economist James Hamilton, is that residents of low-income areas tend to be overlooked by advertisers because they’re less likely to buy subscriptions and have less access to digital media offerings.
Article by Cole Lauterbach with Illinois News Network. For more INN News visit ILnews.org
Illinois Secretary of State warns about marijuana investment scams
Pot is a growing business in Illinois and other states.
And that means marijuana investment scams are becoming a growing problem.
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White issued a warning about investment scams last week. Canada became the second country to legalize recreational marijuana use. Sales there started last week. In the U.S., nine states and Washington D.C. allow for recreational use of marijuana while many other states allow for medical use. The drug remains illegal under federal law.
“Whenever something is in the news, people who are on the wrong side of the ledger, want to line their pockets,” White said. “They come up with the various schemes to take your hard earned money. And we want to do all that we can to keep these people out of your pocket, so to speak.”
White said people need to do their research before investing in anything, especially the new marketplace of marijuana.
“The company must be registered with the state of Illinois,” White said. “If you have any questions about it, you can go to the website AvoidTheScam.net.”
White said the North American Securities Administrators Association has information on scammers and other flagged-businesses.
If you have been scammed, White said the securities department inside the Secretary of State’s office needs to know.
Article by Benjamin Yount, Illinois News Network. For more INN News visit ILnews.org
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