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North Beach Branch Library vote postponed

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Votes that could have kicked off hearings into whether the North Beach Branch Library and eight other branch buildings should be protected as historic landmarks were postponed by the Historic Preservation Commission on Wednesday.

Dozens of library officials, users and neighbors waited hours while commissioners waded through their agenda before delaying votes until Oct. 7 on the only items that had drawn significant public interest.

One of the continued items related to the proposed demolition of the North Beach branch building, which is scheduled to close in 2012 after a replacement is built nearby on a parking lot.

Commissioners had been scheduled to vote on whether The City should begin the process of determining whether the North Beach branch and eight other branches designed by the defunct Appleton & Wolfard architecture firm should be listed as historical landmarks, a move that could protect the buildings from demolition or major structural changes.

The commission serves as an advisor to the Board of Supervisors, which is ultimately responsible for determining whether the buildings should be listed as historical landmarks.

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But for more than five hours Wednesday, commissioners labored over matters that were scheduled to be discussed but not voted upon, such as building height limits along Market Street and whether space should be set aside in Pier 70 redevelopment plans for artists and light industry.

Eventually, votes on whether the Appleton & Wolfard libraries should be considered for listing as historical landmarks were postponed because the meeting room in City Hall had been booked for a 5 p.m. Police Commission hearing. Votes on the century-old Park branch were postponed to give city consultants more time to conduct research.

The commission secretary indicated early in the meeting that such an outcome was possible if commissioners forged ahead with all of the other discussion items.

The North Beach branch could legally be demolished, even if it’s found to be a historical landmark, if the library applies for a demolition permit before the vote, which was rescheduled for Oct. 7, according to advice provided by the City Attorney’s Office during Wednesday’s hearing.

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