A surprise new compromise -- creation of historic district zoning that leaves property owners to decide whether they want to apply for inclusion -- won initial endorsement from the Westminster City Council last night.
The council voted unanimously to introduce Councilwoman Rebecca A. Orenstein's proposal to add the category of historic district to the city zoning ordinance without applying it to any area of the city.
Action on city ordinances is a two-step procedure: introduction, followed by a vote to adopt the measure at the next council meeting.
A surprised and annoyed Council President William F. Haifley tried unsuccessfully to block Ms. Orenstein's proposal.
"This is, to say the very least, highly unusual and out of order of our rules. Obviously, something has taken place that I'm not aware of," Mr. Haifley said after Councilman Stephen R. Chapin Sr.'s motion to introduce an ordinance that would have put the historic district to referendum died without a second.
Mr. Haifley ruled that Ms. Orenstein could not introduce the new compromise because it had not been submitted to the city clerk four days before the council meeting.
His decision and a subsequent council vote to suspend the rules and allow the proposal to be introduced prompted some acerbic exchanges. When Ms. Orenstein said she would withdraw her proposal pending a vote to suspend the rules, Mr. Haifley replied, "You don't have to withdraw it because I never accepted it."
The council scheduled a discussion session on the historic district at 7 p.m. Monday at the city fire hall.