He is circulating a petition to get the city to adopt an archaeological ordinance to prevent archaeological resources from potentially being lost and destroyed. Ashlock looks at construction of a new hotel just north of Drayton Towers.
His aim is not to stop development, Ashlock said, but to make sure there is a review process for developers to follow to preserve and document historic sites. “We’re stewards of what came before us, and it’s our responsibility to take care of it.” No ‘champion’ As of Friday afternoon, Ashlock’s petition on was more than halfway toward meeting his goal of 1,000 signatures.
The petition is raising awareness about the issue as the Chatham County-Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission creates an incentive for developers to voluntarily conduct archaeological studies.
Under the policy, developers that agree to perform studies for large-scale projects would be permitted to build an additional story beyond the area’s height limits.
Four percent of the project’s cost, with a cap of $500,000, would have to go toward archaeology, outreach and education.
The incentive approach is a change in direction after an attempt about four years ago to develop an archaeology ordinance failed to move forward, said Ellen Harris, MPC director of urban planning and historic preservation.
Options considered at the time varied from only requiring archaeological assessments for public projects to also mandating that private developers conduct evaluations, with potential incentives to offset additional costs.The reasoning behind the ordinance was explained in a planning commission memo that said large segments of the underrepresented community — such as slaves, women and immigrants — could be more thoroughly understood through archaeology.The renewed building activity has recently revived a decades-long effort to protect the city’s underground historic resources.Archaeologist Phillip Ashlock said seeing the Drayton Street hotel development was a motivating factor behind an online petition he recently posted, which urges the city to adopt an archaeological ordinance.The large hole in the Historic District, just west of Colonial Park Cemetery, was another reminder that Savannah has no archaeological requirements in place for city or private projects, Ashlock said.The goal of the petition is to garner support for building requirements that would help prevent the loss of historic resources, Ashlock said, in addition to persuading the city to hire an archeologist who would coordinate preservation efforts.