Official recognition of those who voluntarily contribute to the beauty of Conway has been one of the ceremonial highlights of the City Council’s year since 1999, the year the C.P. Quattlebaum Award was initiated.
As was the case last Monday night, a table set up at the front of the room is covered with a white cloth and the awards are displayed on top of it. Then, as the winners are announced, each comes forward to accept the award and the applause of the audience.
The honor was named for Conway’s first mayor, whose home and office – both built in the mid 1800s – now are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The house is a two-story gray structure with first- and second-story wraparound porches across the street from Kingston Presbyterian Church. The office is the distinctive green house that serves as the city’s Visitor Center on Third Avenue.
Potential award winners are screened by the city’s Planning Department and forwarded to the Community Appearance Board, which makes the final decision. Winners are given in both residential and non-residential categories as well as commercial structures and landscaping. The ordinance that established the awards allows but does not mandate that awards also may be given for outstanding signage and outstanding contribution to quality development, restoration, landscape or design by an organization or individual.
This year’s winners:
While the city recognizes beauty, Council members recognize that sometimes, albeit rarely, pretty things have to be laid aside for more important considerations.
In that spirit, the city first issued a moratorium last year on the re-establishment of nonconforming uses and landscaping requirements for certain renovations and expansions of existing buildings. The moratorium was enacted in an effort to encourage businesses to occupy some of the town’s vacant buildings and others to expand, all in the hopes of creating an atmosphere that would be as friendly as possible for job growth.
Last week, the Council extended the moratorium for 2013.
“We’re missing out on some of the aesthetics,” Councilman Tom Anderson said. But in return, the city is getting more jobs for its residents and more sales taxes for its treasury.
Planning Director Michael Leinwand said since the moratorium was first adopted in June 2011, 24 businesses have opened and 16 have re-established non-conforming uses.