Originally created 12/21/06

Paving detours officials



AIKEN - In this city, paving a dirt road is not necessarily a good thing. Sometimes it's actually a mistake.

Earlier this month, city representatives appeared before the Design Review Board to apply retroactively for a certificate of appropriateness to pave Rhododendron Place.

But the road near the horse district had been paved several months ago.

"Just like the CIA didn't talk to the FBI before 9-11, the paving department didn't talk to the planning department," said Philip Merry, the chairman of the Design Review Board.

He said Rhododendron Place should have remained unpaved because it had been designated as a historic road in the early 1990s. But the road was built in the 1950s, Mr. Merry said, and in researching the matter, "nobody could come up with any historic significance for it."

The board voted 4-3 to keep the asphalt on the road.

If the board had denied the application, the city would have had to appeal the decision or rip up the pavement, said Mr. Merry, who voted in favor of the application.

Rosamond McDuffie, a member of the Design Review Board, compiled the list of roads that were to remain unpaved. She said the dirt roads in the historic district are part of Aiken's character.

She also feared that other efforts to protect parts of the city could be cast aside.

"We have reprimanded and also penalized other people who have not abided by our rules," Ms. McDuffie said.

Mr. Merry called the road paving a mistake.

"It was not a grand conspiracy," he said.

Reach Betsy Gilliland at (803) 648-1395, ext. 113, or betsy.gilliland@augustachronicle.com.