Many of you are aware of the recent approval of the Cooper-Young Historic Overlay District, also known as Landmarks. This was the result of almost two years of work by many dedicated volunteers. However, the approval of our Landmarks status was not without its share of complications.

Approval is contingent on an ordinance that has been introduced by Councilman Kemp Conrad. This ordinance had its first reading at the May 8 Memphis City Council meeting and will have its final reading, public comment, and vote at the June 5 meeting. If the ordinance passes, the council will vote to approve the minutes from our hearing, a move that will finalize our Cooper-Young Landmarks status.

If this isn’t already confusing enough, at their May 8 meeting, the city council approved Speedway Terrace’s Landmarks status as well and are holding the minutes until the June 5 ordinance vote, just like Cooper-Young.

The language of the contingent ordinance, at the time of writing, is being reviewed by Conrad and individuals from the Landmarks Commission, so it will likely undergo changes as misconceptions are cleared up between the two governing bodies. Conrad has also put together a working group of citizens and stakeholders, including representatives from many neighborhoods and individuals with city planning experience, to discuss the language of the ordinance that will affect all current and future Landmarks districts.

Because of a Tennessee Supreme Court ruling, the current approval of our Landmarks status gives us a fully functioning overlay from the moment it was being considered as an ordinance. As such, residents are welcome to attend the Landmarks Commission meetings at Memphis City Hall on the third Thursday of each month to offer public comment on all certificates of appropriateness being considered for buildings being demolished and built in our neighborhood or undergoing significant modifications to historic structures.

Please feel free to reach out to the CYCA Landmarks Committee at info@cooperyoung.org if you have questions about navigating the Landmarks process or when and how to offer public comment for Landmarks issues in our neighborhood.. — By Robert Hatfield