Metal-siding moratorium rejected in Sylva

downtown-sylvaThe town of Sylva will not be enacting a moratorium on metal-sided buildings in its downtown area in an effort to preserve its aesthetic integrity, but an ordinance outlining such a prohibition will be explored.


“The appearance of a historic district is important,” said Sylva Mayor Maurice Moody.

A moratorium on metal-sided buildings was on the table at the most recent town board meeting because commissioners were looking to temporarily prevent such structures, particularly in the downtown business area, while an ordinance doing the same is being mulled over. Ultimately, commissioners decided to hold off on the moratorium, while still considering an ordinance. 

“I think we need to worry about how the town looks, but I don’t think now is the time for a moratorium,” said Commissioner Harold Hensley.

Some commissioners seemed a bit squeamish about passing a moratorium on possible development. Hensley told his fellow board members that “the word moratorium will scare people off.”

Eric Ridenour, Sylva’s town attorney, disagreed. He argued that a moratorium would only impact development that was in conflict with the aesthetic direction the town is pursuing. 

“They only thing that would be held up is someone who wanted to put up a metal building,” the attorney said. “These are the people we in fact would want to put on hold.”

Town Manager Paige Roberson implored the board to consider enacting a moratorium on buildings with a skin of metal siding. She said that such a move would improve the town’s chances of a National Historic Register designation.

“[Design standards are] so important right now,” the town manager said.

Sylva is seeking the historic designation for its downtown area in an effort to boost tourist traffic and put the town on more capable footing when pursuing grants. Roberson stressed that the town had already expended a good bit of money in its effort to get the designation and that developments such as those sporting metal siding could hinder the town’s ambitions.

“And we’ve spent several years, the entire time I’ve been here, working on the historic registry,” she said.

The town board, however, remained divided over the issue. Ultimately, the moratorium failed on a 3 to 2 vote. While Mayor Moody’s vote was not needed to break a tie, he did formally voice his support for the moratorium. 

Although the town will not be enacting a moratorium, board members did instruct Sylva’s planning board to consider an ordinance permanently banning metal siding from the downtown business area. Roberson did not have an estimate for how long it might take for the issue to make its way back in front of the town board.

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