Protecting the American-way-of-life-as-we-know-it
OpinionEditor's Note: Articles written by citizens reflect their own opinions and not the views of the Winter Park Voice.
I have always believed in looking to the past to find ways of dealing with the present. That is why I have been impressed by the way in which Winter Park’s anti-preservationist (AP) forces have employed the tactics of fear to cope with the issue of historic preservation.
This method has been employed successfully throughout American history by groups who discover that some evil force is threatening the American-way-of-life-as-we-know-it. Such groups regard the tactics of fear as the only course of action in the face of apocalypse.
Historically the tactics of fear have followed a well-established pattern. First the prime movers discover a conspiracy that poses imminent danger to the structure of society. They publicize it as a threat to the American-way-of-life-as-we-know-it. They marshal opposition to stamp out the evil force.
Given the gravity of the threat, no method is unacceptable. Misstatement, fabrication, even character assassination are all permitted. No compromise is allowed, because that would be to placate a demonic force.
The tactics of fear were effectively employed by early Puritans when they discovered the Devil had materialized in Salem, Massachusetts, in the guise of witches. We all know how the Puritans dealt with that fearful danger.
The tactics of fear were used throughout the 19th century to crush demonic forces that threatened the American-way-of-life-as-we-know-it. In the 20th century, patriotic groups (with a little help from the government) twice saved the American-way-of-life-as-we-know-it. In the 1920s, and again in the 1950s, the tactics of fear prevented a Communist takeover of our government.
Present day APs have discovered demons lurking right here in Winter Park. The demons have possessed the bodies of Historic Preservationists. These preservationist demons are campaigning for a stronger historic preservation ordinance which, say the APs, would destroy our very birthright of freedom and property rights, transforming Winter Park into an authoritarian village.
The apocalypse could begin right here in Winter Park. If historic preservation happens here, it can happen anywhere, signaling the demise of the American-way-of-life-as-we-know-it.
But we may be saved from the apocalypse by a couple of local APs who have awakened our normally somnolent populace to the possible destruction of the American-way-of-life-as-we-know-it.
They have wrested control of the Historic Preservation Board and are ready to move on to the City Commission. If we judge by their recent performance, they will reveal to the Commissioners how the Historic Preservation demons will deprive us of our sacred property rights and other freedoms—unmentioned—and ultimately end the American-way-of-life-as-we-know-it.
I might suggest that, to be consistent, the APs employ one of Senator McCarthy’s most effective techniques–wave a sheet of paper in front of the Commissioners and threaten to name names.
“I have here in my hand the names of 250 card-carrying Historic Preservationists who are still practicing their sorcery throughout our fair city. They are threatening to destroy the American-way-of-life-as-we-know-it.”
[Note to APs: Don’t forget to destroy the paper afterwards.]
That could be a winner with some of our Commissioners.
Editor’s Note: Jack C. Lane, a 50-year resident of Winter Park, is Professor Emeritus of Rollins College where he once headed the History Department. He lives in Virginia Heights which, he remarked, has gone from being a potentially designated historic district to being a fully certified McMansion magnet. “Now that’s proving to be the American-way-of-life-as-we-know-it in Winter Park,” said Lane, “a city that describes itself as possessing ‘. . . a unique character due to its historic architecture as reflected in its vibrant downtown, gracious neighborhoods and landmark buildings.’ ”
Following the example of the Congress and administration, well placed donations should accomplish the desired objectives.
It always seems peculiar to me to observe the mindset of the liberal progressive or pseudo-intellect that resorts to exaggerated hyperbole and obtuse logic to influence an outcome.
It would seem that a property owner who objects to a Historic Preservation Board being empowered to exercise control over his or her individual property rights is guilty of misstatement, fabrication and even character assassination.
I have been a resident of Winter Park for nearly 60 years.
My wife and I love our community and we support all efforts to ward off those who would undermine its village scale.
We particularly admire authentic, traditional architecture and we were very pleased when Casa Feliz was saved. But there have been other properties we have not felt were worthy of preserving. Ours is a subjective response.
And I believe that what is being recommended by the Historic Preservation Board is also subjective. Subject to the whims and preferences of differing opinions such as ours. Winter Park is not a Charleston, S.C. or a Williamsburg, Va.
Some say that property owners are already subject to certain controls (i.e. setbacks, height restrictions, floor area ratios, etc.) but those are applied uniformly to the entire City. Creating a Historic District applies specialized and arbitrary constraints not applied uniformly to everyone.
But the real issue here is that controlled Historic Districts encroach on the property rights of the individual property owner.
I am opposed to imposing an historic designation on any property except on a voluntary basis by each individual property owner.
Thanks a lot Jeffery. You made my point better than I did.
Jeffrey, The revised HP ordinance puts the community in charge of historic preservation.
1. Only the property owner can ask to have their home designated. If it meets the Secretary’s Standards for Historic Preservation, the HPB and the Commission can accept or reject the designation.
2. If the property owner receives designation, they do so understanding there are requirements to be met regarding the type of work that can be done to the home. This is a process similar to historic designation all over the United States.
3. You are correct, we are not Williamsburg or Charleston. We are uniquely Winter Park. That is why preservation ordinances around the nation were created in the first place, for the community to identify and protect that which they truly admire and want to preserve.
4. Districts can only be formed by the residents who live in a particular neighborhood. The restrictions and benefits of the district only apply to the homes that are identified to be part of the district. At least 50% of the homes in a district must be eligible (contributing) homes. There are roughly 150 homes in a total of 7 possible districts in Winter Park. In addition there are roughly 350 homes that are eligible to be individually listed, if the owner is interested.
While I hope that this is not the case, the affected residents could all decide not to form districts or be designated. Or some could decide that it would be a good idea to protect what heritage we have remaining.
For those who are still scratching their heads about this Historic Preservation debate, let me explain how things work around here. Everyone in Winter Park (and many outside Winter Park for that matter) who has an opinion on anything of controversy, calls or emails their Winter Park mayor and commissioners with their opinion. Then, the people who have contributed the most money to their campaigns, always get a reply or their phone call returned. The others do not. The final commission vote is decided based on which side has donated the most money to their campaigns. This is how it works 99% of the time. Unless, there are other benefits received by the commissioners such as business or real estate investment leads, doors opened, favorable media stories about them, or a way to do something for their church or special interest group at the expense of the other Winter Park residents, etc.. That could influence their vote too. So if you truly want Historic Preservation, don’t advocate for a Historic Preservation ordinance. Instead, just circulate a petition at the Farmers Market for a Charter Amendment on the ballot at the next city election that would limit campaign contributions for the mayor and commissioners to a maximum of $100 per contributor. That would really shake things up.
HP limits private property rights when it is placed on an owner’s property without their permission. Limiting donations to a specific dollar amount is limiting free speech. Are there any other constitutional rights you’d like to limit? Religion? Vote?
why stop with just two