Jeff council to consider design guidelines for downtown, hotel/motel tax use

The Jefferson council plans to set public policy on two matters at its regular meeting Tuesday, Jan. 12.

On the agenda are consideration of approving design guidelines for the historic downtown district and consideration of approval of a policy providing funds from hotel/motel tax revenues to community organizations.

The design guidelines for the historic district are proposed by the Jefferson Matters: Main Street design committee. They have not previously been discussed publicly by the city council. According to the agenda notes, they would be guidelines, not requirements. However, the document states that building plans should be reviewed with the city building inspector “to ensure substantial compliance with these guidelines.”

The design guidelines recommend that if a storefront has been altered substantially, the owner should attempt to bring back original historic proportions through the use of “thoughtful design elements”, even if they are not a restoration of the original. The original façade, materials and ornamentation should be maintained and/or restored. The guidelines offer building owners help in selected colors used to beautify buildings.

The design guidelines suggest building owners not add elements not original to the building such as aluminum, vinyl or fiberglass siding or roofing materials, corrugated or beveled metal siding, highly tinted or mirrored glass, or corrugated fiberglass; any materials that attempt to mimic conventional building materials such as fiberglass panels molded to look like brick; or vinyl and metal screen/storm doors.

The council hopes to end discussion of use of hotel/motel tax revenues that began in December of 2014 with a request by the Greene County Chamber of Commerce to verify that the revenues could be used to construction on the proposed Welcome Center within the Thomas Jefferson Gardens.

The hotel/motel tax was approved by the voters with ballot language specifying that 80 percent of the revenue go to the Chamber of Commerce for the promotion of tourism and that 20 percent be used for city recreation. The increase in the amount of funds available since the opening of Cobblestone Hotel, adjacent to Wild Rose Jefferson, created more interest in how those funds are used.

[For a recap of the public conversations on the issue, use the GCNO search tool (upper right corner) with “hotel/motel tax” as the query.]

The proposed policy sets up a three tiers of funding. Tier One provides to the Chamber an annual amount of $30,000 or 80 percent of the total hotel/motel tax revenue, whichever is less to be used for the promotion and encouragement of tourism and convention business in the city of Jefferson.

Tier Two provides $20,000  or 80 percent of the excess gross hotel/motel tax receipts over $37,500, whichever is less, for the construction or payment of principal and interest on the Welcome Center. The city would require the Chamber provide a budget and plan for operating, maintaining and staffing the Welcome Center, and proof that the Chamber is capable of successfully operating and staffing such a center on a long term basis.

Tier Three funding would be available when 80 percent of the total hotel/motel tax receipts are in excess of the Tier One and Tier Two funding to the Chamber. It would be available to 501(c) organizations through an application process.

The application would require a description of the proposed use of funds and how that use promotes and encourages tourism and convention business and financial information.

Click here for the Jan. 12 council packet, which includes the proposed design guidelines and the proposed policy for hotel/motel tax funding.


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