New construction across much of Uptown, Carrollton and Broadmoor could be regulated as closely as it is in the Irish Channel or Garden District, based on the results of a study authorized by unanimous vote of the New Orleans City Council on March 12.
The Historic District Landmarks Commission (HDLC) already regulates construction and renovation in certain areas of the city — most closely in the Irish Channel and the Lower Garden District, but also to a lesser degree in the Garden District, City Council President Stacy Head said. But outside those areas, developers who disrespect the city's history are contributing to "death by a thousand nicks" of its architectural landscape. "New construction is not regulated at all, except for basic building codes," Head said.
Thursday's motion authorizes a Historic Preservation Review Committee to begin studying whether to expand the HDLC jurisdiction to all the area included in the Uptown, Carrollton and possibly also the Broadmoor historic districts.
Currently, at properties in the Irish Channel or Lower Garden District, the HDLC must approve any renovation (short of a paint job or landscaping) that is visible from the street. In the Garden District, all new construction is regulated, but not renovations. Which type of HDLC oversight to apply to the new areas will be part of the committee's discussion, Head said.
Head and District A City Councilwoman Susan Guidry were the only council members to speak on the issue before it quickly passed by a 6-0 vote — including District C Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey, who has sometimes criticized the application of historic-preservation laws. District B City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell, who represents many of the affected areas but has expressed concerns similar to those of Ramsey, was absent as she was representing the city on a Rockefeller Foundation mission to Europe, Head noted.
The committee will be comprised of seven members appointed by Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the City Council.