It's still in the early stages, but the City of Thomson is moving toward developing a Historic Preservation Commission.
"I think it is an important ingredient in holding on to our past and making it work for us in the future," said Thomson Mayor Bob Knox during the Thomson City Council's Jan. 12 meeting.
City council members heard a first reading of the ordinance last Thursday and will be talking about it more in the coming weeks, said City Administrator Bob Flanders.
Once created, the Thomson Historic Preservation Commission's duties would include working toward identifying properties and areas that could be designated as "historical," reviewing renovation projects, holding educational seminars and seeking grant funds.
The primary purpose of the commission is to provide protection to historical properties.
Harlem, Wrens, Louisville and Grovetown are some nearby communities with historic preservation rules already in place. McDuffie County has a historic preservation commission, but it hasn't met in a couple of years.
Approving the historical preservation commission rules helps the city become a Certified Local Government, which qualifies Thomson for various state and local grants, along with a vast network of preservation consultants.
Once the rules are in place, officials can designate an entire district, or specific sights as historically significant. One option could be establishing the downtown shopping district as a historic area, where similar aesthetic guidelines would govern development and renovations.
"That way we can start bringing about compatibility and complimentary structures," Mr. Flanders said.
Historic preservation efforts have intensified after local leaders - including representatives from the Camellia Partnership and the Downtown Development Authority - recently visited downtown Madison.
Mr. Flanders said the city is starting to see the fruits of more than 30 years of concentrated efforts. The city reviews each site, requiring things like brick fašades and smaller parking lots, while increasing open areas - giving the area a "warm, attractive feeling," Mr. Flanders said. Some of the buildings have been converted to multi-use properties: businesses in the lower levels and living spaces on the upper levels. Some of the condominiums in the development are selling for $650,000, officials said.
The efforts in Madison have spread to other parts of town also, Mr. Flanders said.