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With many of the town's grand old buildings lost to the wrecking ball or progress, some Grand Island residents are moving to preserve the town's historic character.

The Town Board is close to voting to establish a historic preservation committee that would recommend sites, buildings and other structures for special designation.

The committee is just one plank of a preservation ordinance that residents and Town Board members discussed at a public hearing Monday night in Town Hall.

"I think it would go a long way toward preserving our heritage," said Teddy Linenfelser, a member of the committee that spent two years drafting the ordinance.

The owners of designated properties would have to follow more stringent guidelines in renovating the premises or making additions.

Supervisor Peter A. McMahon said before the meeting that the ordinance includes provisions to assist property owners who might be burdened by the new law.

The board took no action on the proposed ordinance. While most speakers praised the proposed ordinance, two said they were concerned that the law limits uses of undeveloped land.

Under the proposal, the Town Board would appoint a historic preservation committee, which would recommend sites or structures for historic designation.

The Town Board would approve the designated sites or buildings.

Members of the committee that drafted the ordinance said too many of the town's historic buildings have been torn down.

"I really believe that over the years, many things have been lost that we really wish were still here," Shirley Luther said.

Harvey Long lamented the demolition of School No. 9.

Francis "Bud" Pritchard, a former town justice, said he agrees that a law is warranted to preserve monuments and buildings.

"But when it comes to undeveloped land, I think we have to be more cautious," Pritchard said.

He also said the ordinance grants some powers to the Preservation Committee that should remain with the Town Board.

Rus Thompson of Love Road said he believes historic preservation should be encouraged, rather than mandated.

"This would just add another layer of government and more enforcement police," Thompson said.

Council members Mary S. Cooke and Michael E. Heftka said they plan to review the proposed ordinance in light of Pritchard's comments.

The board could approve the ordinance as early as its March 5 meeting.

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