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The University of West Florida Historic Trust is pushing back against Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward’s proposal that the city eliminate its Architectural Review Board.

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.

In a letter to city council members, the Historic Trust — which manages more than two dozen properties in Pensacola’s historic district — defended the board’s critical role.

“The ARB works tirelessly to uphold the regulations that are established for each district,” wrote Rob Overton, executive director of the Historic Trust. “These regulations were written by professionals, supported by property owners, and approved by the City Council to protect and preserve the historic nature that makes these districts special.”

“We also support downtown development, so long as such development does not negatively impact the historic districts,” added Overton. “It is our opinion that during this period of downtown renaissance, ARB oversight is needed now more than ever.”

Read the UWF Historic Trust’s letter: