Taxpayers should be outraged that the plans of First Baptist Church to continue improving downtown Jacksonville were thwarted, at least temporarily, by the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission.

By a 5-2 vote to deny a necessary permit, the church’s plans to tear down a crumbling building downtown were halted.

Commissioners Jack C. Demetree III, Andres Lopera, Erik Kasper, Timothy Bramwell and Maiju Stansel voted to deny the permit, according to the Daily Record. Ryan Davis and Max Glober voted against. 

Fortunately, this is not the last word. First Baptist can appeal to the City Council for legislation to allow it to continue with a $30 million project to renovate and redevelop 1.5 acres of property near City Hall.

Even if the council sides with the commission, the church has other legal recourse.

The commission majority considers the run-down building to be “historic.” It is not.

The building is not even a century old. It was built by the church, later sold and then re-purchased by the church as it was expanding its downtown campus.

In the meantime, it housed an insurance company for a while.

It is a non-descript building with little historical or architectural value.

Unfortunately, “preservationists” view any old structure as worthy of being kept intact eternally. If this view prevailed, downtown Jacksonville would look as it did in 1900.

Taxpayers should be outraged that the plans of First Baptist Church to continue improving downtown Jacksonville were thwarted, at least temporarily, by the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission.

By a 5-2 vote to deny a necessary permit, the church’s plans to tear down a crumbling building downtown were halted.

Commissioners Jack C. Demetree III, Andres Lopera, Erik Kasper, Timothy Bramwell and Maiju Stansel voted to deny the permit, according to the Daily Record. Ryan Davis and Max Glober voted against. 

Fortunately, this is not the last word. First Baptist can appeal to the City Council for legislation to allow it to continue with a $30 million project to renovate and redevelop 1.5 acres of property near City Hall.

Even if the council sides with the commission, the church has other legal recourse.

The commission majority considers the run-down building to be “historic.” It is not.

The building is not even a century old. It was built by the church, later sold and then re-purchased by the church as it was expanding its downtown campus.

In the meantime, it housed an insurance company for a while.

It is a non-descript building with little historical or architectural value.

Unfortunately, “preservationists” view any old structure as worthy of being kept intact eternally. If this view prevailed, downtown Jacksonville would look as it did in 1900.

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Forsyth Street in 1910

It wasn’t pretty then.

In the opinion of five members of the commission, the church should spend its congregation’s dollars to do expensive repairs and renovations of the aged building.

To what end?

One church member told the commission, “Let me tell you something, all these buildings do not belong to this city. They belong to Jesus Christ, God almighty,” she said. “We want to improve, and we want to be able to stay downtown and win souls to Jesus Christ. We can’t do it with all the property we have now. … We’re not trying to destroy anything. We’re trying to create more.”

So what is the change going to be if they do tear down the building? It will go from this

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to this

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Jacksonville residents are fortunate that the designers of consolidation gave elected officials appellate authority when un-elected busybodies abuse their authority to dictate to private property owners.

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Lloyd was born in Jacksonville. Graduated from the University of North Florida. He spent nearly 50 years of his life in the newspaper business …beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor for Florida Times Union. He has also been published in a number of national newspapers and magazines, as well as Internet sites. Married with children. Military Vet. Retired. Man of few words but the words are researched well, deeply considered and thoughtfully written.

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