Councilman Carr – Abolish HARC

[Letter to Williamson County Sun, October 4, 2006 – Councilman Carr]

Recent interest in the work of the city’s Historical and Architectural Commission (HARC) has possibly painted the commission itself as a problem. To the contrary, the problem lies with Georgetown’s city council, which created HARC.

In my opinion, HARC is doing about as well as can be expected given its charter and the circumstances the city finds itself in with respect to the downtown Square. There is presently no easy method for merging architectural and economic factors into a final decision and doing so in a timely manner that will not damage applicants in their business pursuits. With this confluence of circumstances, HARC has become dysfunctional. Since HARC is a creation of and represents the city council, the situation is an embarrassment to the council. Results of the HARC process are in effect discouraging new business and costing them money rather than working with and supporting new business.

The best way to resolve this is to immediately abolish HARC – simply shut it down. All functions of HARC should then be assigned to the city staff though the city manager. Staff can carry out all the required analysis on changes to buildings in the downtown area, and staff decisions will be, when appropriate, presented to the city council for approval. In several months, if the staff finds that some outside technical advice is needed to support their work, a new advisory-only board or committee (with a completely different name and charter) can be organized to provide this advice. In the meantime, decisions about business on the Square and in the downtown area in general can start to make progress.

Since the city’s taxpayers have already invested more than $6 million in the downtown area, it is absolutely essential that we leverage this investment on behalf of taxpayers and help the downtown prosper.

Henry Carr, Council Member District 4


No replies to “Councilman Carr – Abolish HARC”