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Preserving downtown

HISTORIC PRESERVATION – The Hazlehurst Chamber of Commerce sought support of the Board of Aldermen last Tuesday night to pursue a historic preservation commission and ordinance to protect the downtown district. If the city obtains Certified Local Government status, grant funds may be available.

The Hazlehurst Chamber of Commerce sought the support of the Board of Aldermen at the July meeting to pursue a historic preservation ordinance, establishment of a commission, and status as a Certified Local Government.

Chamber board member Daphine Foster presented an overview to the board and public. The goal is “to protect and enhance the historic district, strengthen civic pride and cultural stability,” Foster said.

The board gave its blessing to the Chamber to work with the city attorney to customize a historic preservation ordinance for Hazlehurst. The city’s historic district was formed in 1998 and includes downtown and the surrounding streets – 377 buildings on about 150 acres.

If the city can become a CLG, grant funds may be available to improve the downtown area. The CLG program is a partnership of federal, state, and city governments.

The Chamber would also like to see the formation of a historic preservation commission which would conduct surveys, recommend landmarks for special attention, and issue certificates of appropriateness to new construction so that it fits the character of what is already there.

This project will also step up the city’s involvement in the Main Street program to revitalize downtown with the help of the Mississippi Development Authority and National Trust for Historic Preservation. The aim is to protect the existing tax base and attract new business.

The Main Street area is strictly the downtown business district, Foster explained, but the historic district includes the surrounding area, so the boundaries are not the same.

The Chamber hopes to help the city pursue CLG status, further the Main Street process, and develop a five-year plan, design guide and funding plan.

The Copiah County Historical and Genealogical Society is currently working with the City of Crystal Springs to help that municipality achieve CLG status and adopt a historic preservation ordinance.

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