supports designation of local historical district
of committee by mayor leads to questions in
regard to state statutes
In what could be argued as snatching defeat
from the hands of victory, the Platte City Board of
Aldermen approved a resolution that would seem to support
an application to the National Historic Registry for
Platte Citys downtown, but in reality may have
violated state statutes.
Originally planned on the agenda to be
a special ordinance protecting the historic and
architectural character of downtown Platte City,
city officials changed the wording of the issue to become
a resolution one day before the regularly scheduled
meeting of the aldermen on Tuesday.
The resolution declares support for a
district that begins at the Platte City Cemetery at
the north, the Platte River on the west, to Marshall
Road on the west and continuing south to Academy Street.
The original ordinance created an independent
historical preservation committee that consisted
of Alderman George McClintock, the mayors wife
and business partner Mary Ann Brooks, and Shirley Kimsey.
The committee was to be of independent function
and would have the support of the aldermen to present
a petition on behalf of the city to put the downtown
district on the National Historic Registry.
The ordinance was not designed to become
a part of the municipal code according to city officials,
but may have repealed the citys existing Residential
Conservation District that was incorporated in June
The subsequent and approved version of the measure was
re-written as a resolution in support of the same committee
to nominate the downtown district to the National Historic
Registry, as provided by Chapter 89 of the Missouri
Statutes dealing with zoning and planning.
While those statutes provide for the
naming of such districts, the statute also specifically
prohibits city legislative bodies from making such regulations,
restrictions or boundaries without a public hearing
at which interested parties and citizens can be heard.
Platte City has never held such a hearing and at this
date apparently has no plans to do so.
The resolution makes no mention of any
future public hearing plans.
After a brief questioning of several downtown
Platte City merchants and property owners by The Landmark,
none have been contacted by the commission (with the
obvious exception of Kimsey and Mary Ann Brooks, who
both maintain storefronts downtown). In addition, a
hearing has never been announced within 15 days notice
through any legal notice as required by the statute.
When questioned by The Landmark, Platte
City Mayor Dave Brooks said the naming of the board
was no big deal and stressed the boards
independent status. Unanswered, however, was how an
independent board could declare a zoned district and
represent the citys interests in such a matter.
When this question was posed to McClintock the
only elected member of the historic commission McClintock
expressed that he was unclear as to the law regarding
the project as well and characterized his involvement
with the project as minor.
Kimsey was present at the meeting early on, but left
for a prior engagement before the resolution was passed
and was subsequently unavailable for questions from
the press at the time of this writing. She left a note
with Alderman Bill Knighton stating that the paperwork
was underway for presentation to unspecified Jefferson
City officials (believed to be members of the DNR).
Historic districts have been credited
with protecting investments of business owners and residents,
providing for increased tourism revenue and increasing
business recruitment and retention.
Locally, Lexington and Weston, Missouri
have used their own historic districts to do just that.
The beleaguered and rapidly dwindling merchant section
of downtown Platte City (a condition described as being
cyclical by the citys chamber of commerce)
has recently begun studying the idea for this area.
The issue of a historic district came
back into public focus after The Landmark reported on
a group of Main Street merchants who desired additional
signage on I-29 that pointed to the citys downtown.
(Those signs, it was announced at the May 25 meeting
of the board of aldermen, will be coming to the city
in late June).
During a visit to the city to discuss
the signage, Missouri Department of Transportation Traffic
Studies Engineer Keith Lay wondered aloud if the city
was interested in pursuing the idea of a downtown historic
district, but said city representatives seemed cool
to the idea.
I kind of threw that out there,
Lay recounted. I didnt get much of a response.
Soon after, The Landmark contacted Kimsey,
a noted Platte City historian, for assistance on a news
feature about the possibility of pursuing a historic
designation for downtown Platte City. At that time,
Kimsey told The Landmark that she had worked on a similar
project a little more than a quarter a century ago.
Kimsey decided after the issue was raised
by The Landmark in its article published on Feb. 26,
2004, to once again pursue the idea.
Since then, questions have arisen over
Kimseys interpretation of the requirements Platte
City would have to meet in order to become a part of
the registry. Kimsey has expressed in past meetings
of the Platte City Area Development Association (PCADA),
and in a brief afternoon visit to The Landmark, that
being on the registry would require a facelift of properties
and could prevent ownership from making changes to their
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources
(DNR) has soundly rejected both assertions.
The DNRs National Historic Register
Coordinator Tiffany Patterson said that being placed
on the register would make the area eligible for grant
money, but would not mean that property owners couldnt
upkeep their property in any way they see fit.
Thats one of the biggest myths
about the register, Patterson explained. The
person who owns the property is free to sell or maintain
their property in any way they want," Patterson
told The Landmark.