Martina Kunnecke, president Neighborhood Planning and Preservation, spoke at the rally. (Photo by Curtis Morrison.)

Preservationists have a cool new friend on the Louisville Metro Council.

District 21 Metro Councilman Dan Johnson showed up at a rally today at Main and Floyd streets, siding with about two dozen preservationists against amending Louisville’s Historic Landmarks and Preservation Districts designation process.

(A 19th century building had stood on the site of the rally, which is now surface parking – a building that was torn down as part of the city’s deal with Todd Blue to save Whiskey Row.)

The proposed legislation – termed the Yates Amendment after sponsor David Yates, 25th Metro Council District – is scheduled to come up for discussion tomorrow afternoon at 1:30 p.m. during a planning and zoning committee meeting.

The Yates’ amendment has two parts.

• The proposed amendment would change the way citizens petition metro government for landmark designation, limiting petitions to a certain number or percentage of residents within a 1-mile radius of the structure proposed for landmark designation. The current process allows any city resident to start the landmark process by petition.

• The second part would require the Metro Council review and approve all landmarks decisions of the Landmarks Commission. Currently, the commission includes a Metro Council voting member, but is independent of city government.

Johnson said the current landmarks process kept developers from tearing down the Colonial Gardens structure in his district near Iroquois Park and replacing it with a drug store. But he acknowledged the opposing position – people who don’t live in a neighborhood can decide what the neighborhood has to live with … including the deteriorating structure.

“Colonial Gardens is still standing and it will remain standing until someone renovates it,” Johnson said. “Some people think it’s an eyesore, but I think it’s a project that hasn’t been finished yet.”

At least three local candidates attended the rally including Metro Council candidates Mason Roberts and Bryan Mathews, and state senate candidate Curtis Morrison.

Morrison, who is a regular contributor to Insider Louisville, said, “What’s good about (the rally) is that a metro councilman talked about Colonial Gardens in a way no one ever has before.”

A number of pro-development officials including current Eighth District Metro Councilman Tom Owen and Chuck Kavanaugh, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Louisville, are working to craft a compromise between developers and preservationists.