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Sylva allows more time for window replacements

Downtown Sylva property owners will still have to replace any plywood currently covering up windows, but they will be provided with more time to do so. 

In September, the Sylva Board of Commissioners considered a trio of ordinance amendments aimed at shoring up both aesthetics and safety in the downtown area. One of the amendments disallowed structures with exteriors of metal siding or concrete blocks, while a second targeted manufactured housing in the district. Those two passed.

The third, dealing with plywood window coverings — of which there are numerous in the downtown area — gave commissioners pause. They feared that mandating the upgrades within six months would be too financially burdensome on property owners. 

After directing the Sylva Planning Board to address their concerns, commissioners again considered the amendment last week. They unanimously approved the revisited version.

“It basically is six windows the first year, and it focuses on the timeline, with six windows every year after that,” explained Sylva Town Manager Paige Roberson. 

In addition to attempting to make the downtown area — which recently landed on the National Historic Register — more visually appealing, the board set their sights on the plywood window coverings due to safety concerns as well. During a downtown fire in August, firefighters were delayed when they had to gain entry into structures by cutting second-story plywood coverings with chainsaws.

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While the revisited and approved ordinance amendment addressed commissioners’ concerns, the changes did not ease the mind of attorney Paul Holt. He had previously raised concerns about his Main Street office, which long ago incorporated permanently covered ground-floor windows into his property. 

Holt told commissioners he didn’t feel that the planning board had addressed his concerns. Town Attorney Eric Ridenour suggested that the board could pass the ordinance amendment then offer Holt an exemption. 

“Is that something we can do tonight?” asked Commissioner Mary Gel Baugh. 

Ridenour replied that it was. Commissioners then approved the amendment, then immediately exempted Holt’s 702 W. Main St. property. 

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