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Pensacola developers Quint and Rishy Studer are adding their names to those defending Pensacola’s Architectural Review Board after Mayor Ashton Hayward suggested that the board should be abolished.

Established in 1968, the volunteer board evaluates projects within five historic and aesthetic review districts to ensure new developments meet architectural standards and fit in with established neighborhoods. Displeased with several of the board’s recent decisions, Hayward recently told the Pensacola News Journal that he would support eliminating the board.

Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward. (Derek Cosson/The Pulse)

In a letter to city council members, the Studers — who have substantial property holdings and development interests in downtown Pensacola — defended the ARB’s “important role in our community.”

“The ARB protects not only the historic integrity of our downtown, but also brings standards to bear so that private development is consistent with what we want as a community,” the Studers wrote. “This helps to create a level playing field and a predictable environment for investors and developers.”

The Studers recommended the ARB “strive for clear building standards applied equally to all projects.”

“The ARB should operate within a defined scope as to what is and is not in their purview,” they wrote.

The Studers’ letter may have helped pull Hayward back from his extreme position. In a statement to The Pulse, Hayward appears to have backed off his call to abolish the board, instead calling for a workshop and for the elimination of the Governmental Center District, one of the five city review districts under the ARB’s purview.

“We appreciate the ARB and everything they have done and continue to do to maintain and improve the architectural quality of Pensacola’s special review districts,” Hayward said. “However, due to previous inconsistencies in some of the ARB’s decisions, we believe that the board members would benefit from a workshop to review their responsibilities. There is a major difference between a historic district and a governmental district, and we do believe that the need for keeping the Governmental Center District should be reconsidered.”

Read Quint and Rishy Studer’s letter:

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