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Demolitions Are Endangering Five Points

A recent Milledge Circle demolition request uproar demonstrates the jeopardy and endangerment that rampant demolition poses for two residential areas of central Five Points.

The recent demolition request for 177 Carlton Terrace (demo No. 18-06-1718) was extended by Commissioner Allison Wright to Sept. 6, just a day away. Each passing day, without action, is a lost opportunity. A neighbor, who is homebound by health issues, recently posted an appeal on the Friends of Five Points listserv to save the house. I hope others have made known their opposition to having this house torn down and the street substantially altered.

A meaningful response to our continuing “demolition derby” would be a moratorium on all requests in central Five Points (including 177 Carlton Terrace), applied to two specific neighborhood areas. While this step may seem extreme, it is minor compared to sanctioning the continued destruction of properties over 50 years of age, i.e., those that are “historic.” Otherwise, the demo derby will continue to destroy historic properties until there are but few historic properties remaining. And then we will look like suburbia.

The two specific endangered areas are each bisected by South Milledge Avenue as you travel south away from Five Points. Both sides include residential properties on Milledge itself. Area 1, on the left, is bounded by Milledge Avenue, Morton Avenue, Agricultural Drive and Southview, back to Milledge. As a part of a field study, a boundary connecting Morton and Agricultural Drive would need to be established. Area 2, on the right, is bounded by Milledge Avenue, Milledge Terrace, Greenwood (near Memorial Park) around to Milledge Heights, and then using the first cross street to connect to Parkway, and Parkway back to Milledge Avenue.

While Athens has designated a number of areas as historic districts, it has ignored almost as many as it has designated. Each neighborhood should be given an equal opportunity for designation based on its age.

Our Athens-Clarke County Unified Government is the only source for that assistance. The volume of demolition requests granted, and the subsequent rebuilding of (usually) larger replacement homes, has enhanced the local tax base. This should provide the revenue to fund neighborhood surveys by our Planning Department.

Please do not dismiss these concerns as a need for quickie neighborhood referendums not based upon an appraisal of actual preservation opportunity and value. The two area proposals referenced herein reflect a quick drive I took around the neighborhood and my impression that most structures were at least 50 years old. The exact final boundary determination would be a part of the proposed survey.

Waters is a UGA College of Environment and Design professor emeritus and a 45-year resident of Five Points.