Historic overlay to protect square

Xavier Smith • Updated Jan 10, 2018 at 8:00 AM

The Lebanon Historic Preservation Commission approved a zoning overlay Tuesday for property on the Lebanon Square and a few surrounding properties. 

Overlay districts are districts that provide an extra layer of regulation to meet specific needs and purposes. The general purpose is to provide extra protection beyond the base district zoning. 

The Lebanon Square overlay district includes guidelines on exterior renovations, decorative elements and proper signage. 

“The overlay is to look at the entirety of the district – essentially, the entire public square that was laid out in 1802,” Parks said. “The idea of the overlay is to not require any of owners of property to do anything to their property – steps to change or make compatible – but to control changes to it.”

Parks said the goal of the historic zoning overlay is to preserve the historic integrity of the area. The commission worked for many months to decide all facets of the overlay, which aims to keep the square historically accurate while letting building owners use materials that maintain quality over time. The overlay only makes standards for the exterior look of the building, allowing business owners full reign over the interior design. 

The Lebanon Square is zoned as a commercial district, with prohibitions on discount tobacco stores, bail bonding and other businesses. 

The Lebanon Square was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999 and is marked there as significant for commerce and agriculture. Andrew Jackson once owned a store on the square many years before he became president, four county courthouses have stood there and still today events that bring Lebanon together are held there. 

The Lebanon Square recently got a boost with the help of the Main Street program, which helped secure funding to improve the exterior look of some of the buildings while keeping in line with design guidelines from the city.

The Lebanon Planning Commission will discuss the overlay during its Feb. 27 meeting. 

Democrat news editor Sinclaire Sparkman contributed to this report.

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