Lexington's Planning Commission approved Ashland Park as a historic district on a 7-4 vote Thursday before an overflow audience in the Government Center.
The issue now goes to the Urban County Council for a final vote. Council must vote within 90 days.
The Ashland Park neighborhood was originally part of the 600-acre farm owned by Henry Clay. The internationally known landscaping firm of the Olmsted Brothers in Brookline, Mass., was hired in 1908 to lay out the streets and lots.
The area was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. Local historic designation would protect properties from being torn down or significantly modified without approval from the Board of Architectural Review.
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Opponent Ben Kaufmann, who owns 41 properties in historic districts, said Thursday the board is requiring him to replace box gutters on a historic house he owns at 426 South Broadway. "It's going to cost me $26,000," Kaufmann said. Being in a historic district is expensive, "especially for people on fixed incomes," he said.
Several opponents asked to have their property exempted, but none were. "I don't think people should be forced into things they don't want," said Glenn Brown, who lives on Desha Road. However, supporter Bill Loggins said all city zoning regulations tell people what they can and cannot do with their property.
Commission member Lynn Roche Phillips said she thought it was "shameful" that the city had not done something before now to protect Ashland Park.
"That's what we're supposed to be doing as planning, not waiting until something happens then doing something on the back side in a reactionary way," she said. "I absolutely, vociferously support this."
Commission members Mike Cravens, Will Berkley, Karen Mundy and Carla Blanton voted against the historic designation.