GREEN MOUSE SAYS: This new electronic sign at St. Mary’s did not receive a COA from the New Albany Historic Preservation Commission (hint: it’s illegal).

There’s on little thing …

The Green Mouse has received a tip from one of his favorite contributors.

No COA (Certificate of Appropriateness) for the big (and consequently illegal) electronic sign at St. Mary’s in the East Spring Street historic district. Lots of businesses and churches have been turned down for electronic signage over the years.

Before we continue, let’s pile up a few backing facts. First up: yes, it’s inside the boundaries of the East Spring Street Historic District.

Next: yes, the New Albany Historic Preservation Commission issues Certificates of Appropriateness for exterior work inside a designated district.

What is a Certificate of Appropriateness?

A Certificate of Appropriateness authorizes the start of any exterior work on a building in a historic district or historic neighborhood, including:

  • Demolition of a structure.
  • Moving of a structure.
  • New construction, including additions to existing structures.
  • Exterior changes affecting the appearance of any building or part of a building visible from the public right of way. The exterior changes include walls, windows, porches, roof, siding, fences, light fixtures, steps, paving and signs as well as additions, reconstruction, alteration, or maintenance involving exterior color changes.

How do I know if I need a Certificate of Appropriateness?

Ask before you proceed with exterior work. Contact the NAHPC Administrator at 812-284-4534. You may also consult the “Historic District Design Guidelines City of New Albany.” Design Guidelines are available by contacting the City Plan Department (3rd floor, City County Building), your neighborhood association, the New Albany-Floyd County Public Library or your district’s representative to the NAHPC.

And, speaking of “Historic District Design Guidelines: City of New Albany,” the sub-section about signs is fairly clear.

It’s a tad disappointing that as a beneficiary of Super Tuesday’s historic preservation largess distribution (and a questionable one, in my estimation), the church didn’t follow COA procedures with the new electronic sign.

It will be doubly disappointing if City Hall, after these puffy days of publicly celebrating its preservation credentials, doesn’t enforce the rules. After all, unequal enforcement is in many respects worse than no enforcement at all.

But maybe Deaf Gahan gave St. Mary’s a “Get Out of COA Free” card. That’d be par for the course in the Chronicles of New Gahania.