MISSION, Texas – Recognizing that the city of Mission is in Hidalgo County not Bell County, Mission city leaders say they are going to amend their Historical Preservation Ordinance.
Quite how Bell County snuck into the ordinance is not clear. But, when the document was approved by Mission City Council on June 14, 2021, the wrong county was listed.
It stated: “Upon designation of a historic landmark or historic district by the City Council, the designation shall be recorded by legal description on the City’s official zoning maps, in the records of real property of Bell County, and with the tax appraisal office.”
Mission resident David Garza told the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service: “Did the Mission Historical Preservation Commission even read their own ordinance? The level of incompetence by whoever stole Bell County’s ordinance is laughable yet also tragic because it did not protect our nationally listed Roosevelt Auditorium.”
The Bell County reference is not the only error in the Historical Preservation Ordinance. At a Mission Historical Preservation Commission meeting held June 19, Mission City Attorney Victor Flores said a portion of the ordinance came, unnecessarily, from the City of Plano’s historical preservation ordinance.
Among those signing off on the error-strewn Historical Preservation Ordinance in 2021 were then-Mayor Armando O’Caña, City Secretary Anna Carrillo, Mission Historical Preservation Commission Chair Charlie Garcia, III, Mission Historic Preservation Officer Cynthia Stojanovic, and then-City Attorney Gus Martinez.
Perhaps the biggest mistake with the Historical Preservation Ordinance, Historical Preservation Commission members said, was a decision made in 2015 to shrink by half the size of Mission’s Historical District. As a result of that change, historic buildings located south of the railroad tracks were no longer protected by the ordinance, which is why Mission CISD was able to bulldoze the nationally listed Roosevelt Auditorium with immunity.
At the Mission Historical Preservation Commission meeting, Flores urged the group’s members to include in a revised Historical Preservation District Map such famous landmarks as Rio Theatre, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, La Lomita Church, and Mission Pump House.
Mission Historical Preservation Commission members agreed unanimously that the Historical Preservation Ordinance needed to be “cleaned up.”
Hollis Rutledge, a member of the Mission Historical Preservation Commission, said: “It appears to me that for the first time ever, we are now taking hold of making sure that we preserve our history. For the very first time in the history of the city. And I’m glad to hear and see that those steps are taking place as we speak by the Council and our legal counsel, in assisting the Commission to formulate a strategy and a plan to restore the city and preserve the history of our community, especially south of the railroad.”
Mission residents concerned that their city’s history is being destroyed attended the Historical Preservation Commission meeting. They praised Gabriel Ozuna, vice chair of Hidalgo County Historical Commission and chair of its preservation committee. Ozuna previously worked for the City of Mission as its Historic Preservation Coordinator. It was he, the residents said, who produced a thorough list of the historic buildings Mission needs to preserve.
Among the residents to attend were Garza, Irma Flores Lopez, Ester Salinas, and Roel Rangel.
Salinas said Mission CISD deserves an “F.” Garza said the Mission Historical Preservation Commission should be “held accountable” for the destruction of Roosevelt Auditorium. Rangel said an historic building should not come down for a parking lot. “Major fail,” he said. Flores Lopez said is going to produce a documentary on the rise and fall of Roosevelt Auditorium.
Here are some audio highlights from the Mission Historical Preservation Commission meeting:
Here is an audio recording of Mission City Attorney Victor Flores explaining why the Historical Preservation Ordinance needs revamping:
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