City of Savannah taking next steps to establish an archaeology ordinance

City of Savannah taking next steps to establish an archaeology ordinance

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - After getting more than 500 responses in a public survey, the City of Savannah is moving forward with the next steps in establishing an archaeology ordinance. The city wants to conduct archaeological surveys and assessments on all public property before building on it.

They’ll use that ordinance as a phased plan for at least a year to figure out if it works and how much it will cost. The city’s proposed plan to establish an archaeological ordinance framework includes: city projects requiring an archaeological assessment, all sales of surplus city property to include archaeological assessments, prohibiting archaeological and detecting activities on city property unless permitted, and any artifacts found protected and placed in curation facility.

“We have a very rich history and it’s been threatened. A lot of development has caused some threats to that national historic landmark district. So this ordinance takes one step in the right direction to say we really care about our history and we want to preserve it,” said Nick Zoller, City of Savannah Director of Communications.

The crowd was split in opinion. The city says the drafted ordinance would begin with only public properties, but others believe it would move to include private properties, too.

“It just throws too many people under the bus for very little public return. There’s been no feasibility study done on the ordinance yet and we look forward to working with them on that. I think they are going to find out that the expense of doing this is a lot greater than they realize,” said Keith McIntyre.

Many wonder if the city eventually adds private or commercial properties to be subject of these archaeological assessment, how much of a burden would that be on the property owner? Others say that can be worked out, citing our Savannah history is most important.

“If we don’t care for it, every single day in everything that we do and how we do it than eventually we won’t have a historic district. We’ll end up looking like anywhere USA,” said Mary Ellen Sprague.

The city plans to move fast with this proposed archaeological plan.

Here are some upcoming dates for the ordinance:

  • A published draft ordinance is expected Nov. 4.
  • After taking comments and suggestions, they’ll present the final ordinance on Nov. 22.
  • They’ll present to City Council twice, with a vote on Dec. 19.
  • They want a committee to start work Jan. 1, 2020.

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