Historic Preservation Commission approves Hester project

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Property owner Tim Hester won permission from the Historic Preservation Commission to resume work on his South Green Street house, but he still needs a city permit and still must appear in court.
Hester, who had come under fire for altering a historic house without a permit or commission approval, had a one-hour hearing on the matter Wednesday.
Speaking before commission members at City Hall, Hester detailed his plans to restore the former mill workers’ home to its original condition.
He withdrew his earlier request for demolition approval.
“We were very satisfied,” said commission chairwoman Karen Keeney after the meeting.
The commission voted to grant Hester a Certificate of Appropriateness, which is necessary for any major project inside a local historic district. In this case, the house sits inside the Mill Village District, as well as within a National Register of Historic Places district.
With a COA, Hester now can apply for a city building permit – also necessary for any major work.
But the property owner still faces a Nov. 18 arraignment at Tupelo Municipal Court for having begun work without either the COA or the permit.
Despite the commission’s earlier decision to slap Hester with the maximum penalty – a $500 citation for each of the roughly 30 days the house remained altered – only two citations were entered.
Keeney said it’s the commission’s recommendation now for the judge to go easy on Hester because he has cooperated.
“Him having complied with the process after the fact doesn’t really change that there was a violation,” said City Planner Pat Falkner, who attends all commission meetings. “It does mitigate it some.”
Hester said he was pleased with the commission’s decision and hopes to resume work on the house within a week. He said he’ll replace the porch and front facade, install wood-framed windows and build a new addition in back.
The project will take several months to complete.