The Council received a scheduled public comment from a Mount Vernon citizen regarding a property he owned and was trying to sell. Shane Amundson, who lives on 724 5th Avenue NW, also owns the lot to the south of it. He wanted to split the lot in two, which it was in the past, according to a surveyor. He also wanted to sell one of the lots but was informed that it wasn't allowed to by Mount Vernon's Historical Preservation Commission.
"Nothing of this adds up except for that it's a multi-unit and it's actually in the neighborhood," said Amundson. "Now, in the paper that I read, they said 'we appreciate what the potential buyer is trying to do, and we support him for doing it'. And we act like we want affordable housing in Mount Vernon, but I am sick to death of people saying, 'we don't want it in our backyard'. This lot is next door to me and I would be the neighbor who made cookies instead of telling my neighbor what they can do with their money and their problem. This is an $80,000 jab to me and my wife."
The Commission was created in 1985 with the mission of protecting and promoting the city's architectural heritage. They're in charge of raising awareness of the city's history, creating and maintaining the city's historical districts, and advising any district residents who are looking to alter and update their homes of the rules and regulations surrounding such moves. Mount Vernon is legally required to maintain the Commission if it wished to continue having recognized historical districts in its jurisdiction.
Amundson felt that the Commission was forcing unfair requirements on him, as he had found several examples of inconsistencies in how the Commission enforces rules in his neighborhood. He also told the Council that he had put a large amount of money and effort into the properties and is upset that the Commission is essentially taking his financial assets and potential income sources away because building on the property would be a major issue. The Council sympathized with Amundson and apologized for him having to go through so much legal trouble. They also discussed potential methods that they might be able to use to resolve the situation to streamline the process for other city residents.