Preservation must press on rules

Published 11:13 pm Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Since Louisiana-based developer Judy Weatherly bought the former First Baptist Church in 2007 she’s done little to halt its demise.

Weatherly — whose company is aptly named Dream Homes Inc. — has talked big, dreamed big and planned big, but she hasn’t produced.

Her company did not follow the rules put in place by the Natchez Preservation Commission and clearly did more harm than good to the historic structure.

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Removing the church’s stained-glass windows and selling them for a profit not only robbed the church of its history it exposed the already crumbling building to the elements further.

The preservation commission has bent over backward too many times for this developer. Her nine lives should be over and charges of demolition by neglect should be filed.

We are glad Weatherly has finally decided to sell the property, as it is time for a new plan.

But her decision to sell should not free her from the liability of demolition by neglect charges.

Unfortunately for Natchez and our history, the damage has been done. Finding a buyer capable and desirous of fixing the damage may prove difficult right now.

But Natchez must enforce the law this time so it isn’t broken next time.