(Note: Satire and fatigue may creep into the following, so please don’t take it as pure news reporting. Such reporting generally does no good in New Albany, anyway)
Local property owner Ron Craig spoke during public comment time last night. Craig said that he’s been in business for a long time and recently had a property in need of repair, one located within the boundaries of a historical preservation district (on Market Street).
In 2008, he began covering the house in vinyl siding because it’s cheaper than paint, and how can anyone mandate paint when vinyl’s cheaper? This is 'Merica, right? More succinctly, this is New Albany, the place that good taste forgot -- right? Isn’t the idea to reclaim such buildings as inexpensively as possible and enable more quadplexes?
Craig promptly received a cease and desist order from the Historical Preservation Commission, itself approved by a previous council to administer standards in a delineated area … yes, an area approved by a previous council. In other words, laws had been written, a governing body established, and now, two years ago, property owner Craig is reminded of the existence of such things as laws, reacting to this belated discovery in the time-honored way: By ignoring them, and daring the city's (non) enforcement to materialize out of nowhere.
Duly outraged, he persisted with work in spite of being told he was violating a law of which he was ignorant, willfully or otherwise, and I’m reminded that the last time I told a cop that I was not aware of the law, my excuse was dismissed faster than Steve Price shuts the cover of a book with too many three-syllable words in it, and a citation was issued.
Remarkably, Craig's bluff was called.
And so, Craig hired the once-relevant lawyer Krafty John, who specializes in tricky zoning cases, and lawsuits were filed, and because the owner of Pastimes also violated the rules by tearing down a structure sans permission, and had his bluff called, too, he’s now in bed with Craig to rouse the oppressed masses against the monstrous tyranny of historical preservation, and when Craig asked everyone in the room who’d been viciously screwed by the ungodly HPC to stand and be counted, a grand total of two people actually did.
Somewhere, Todd Coleman cheered and pressed a button to erect another blow-up doll to announce a used furniture sale.
Because Li’L Stevie now sings karaoke for pickled bologna and Budweiser at the bar in question, he’s also keen to do away with these damned stinking laws foisted on us by the VFW-hating, pinko-Nazi eyeglasses wearers with degrees who he wouldn’t rent a couch to if they begged him for lice-ridden upholstery and a gentle lullaby.
When I stood to be recognized as among those having positive experiences with HPC, and noted aloud that I was under the impression that ignorance of the law should be laughed at, not accepted as a valid excuse, Price began waving his guitar pick at me and dry-mouthing impolite utterances in my general direction.
Welcome back my friends, to the show that NEVER ends.
In some fashion, it appears the city council now wants to appease the law breakers by curbing the zealotry of historical preservation and appointing a council member to the board, or in some yet undisclosed way interfering with its own useful enforcement creation without contributing to the enforcement, or by having any intelligible discussion that might lead us to believe there is a genuine issue with historical preservation, apart from Price’s anti-world-of-all-knowledge infantile blathering and the obviously biased testimony of two or three people who believe that not knowing about a law’s existence exempts them from compliance.
Except that Dan Coffey, who brought up HPC in the newspaper, voted against the ordinance, and Bob Caesar – striving as ever to oppose the best interests of his own neighborhood – voted for it. Price, who used to sleep through Urban Enterprise Area meetings and doodle on newspapers when not openly yawning, would be an ideal choice to oversee the activities of a body that he'll never understand. That's the New Albany way, isn't it?
Try figuring any of it. As Craig himself noted, “I guess it depends on how you look at it.”
Yes and no, but at least by your testimony, Ron, you provided support for the notion that rental property ownership is a business, not a product, and for that I’m grateful. Tell it to that dude up in the Knobs, will you?