What Local Historic District DOES NOT do: · Does not regulate paint colors · Does not require repairs or renovations to be made · Does not increase taxes beyond normal increases for the City or County · Does not prevent additions · Does not prevent non-contributing homes from being demolished · Does not require use of historic materials or historic building methods · Does not require that you open you home to the public · Does not restrict routine maintenance of properties
What Local Historic District DOES do: · Recognizes that Oakhurst has a distinctive historic character important to the overall character of the City of Decatur · Encourages creative and compatible development with historic areas · Requires that a Certificate of Appropriateness be obtained for exterior changes to contributing properties, demolition of buildings, and new construction. · Applies only to major renovations to the exterior of your home. Interior renovations are not restricted.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Local Historic Districts Help Preserve Character

Here is an article from the Fall 2005 Decatur Preservation Alliance news letter:

Local Historic Districts
Help Preserve Character
The Decatur Preservation Alliance has formed an Advocacy committee to further our mission of helping preserve Decatur’s historic structures and greenspaces. The Advocacy committee has decided that one of its highest priorities is educating Decatur property owners about what benefits neighborhoods can receive from forming more local historic districts, and encouraging property owners to apply for historic district status for their neighborhoods.

Decatur is almost unique among inside-the-perimeter metro Atlanta small towns in retaining intact its historic neighborhoods. A survey completed for the City of Decatur in 1990 states that “by the year 2000 probably 80 percent of all of Decatur’s housing will be eligible for the National Register based on age alone.” However, very recently, development pressures have resulted in increasing demolitions of historic homes (those more than 50 years old) and commercial buildings throughout Decatur. While the DPA supports appropriate redevelopment in the city’s residential and commercial districts,
we urge residents of historic neighborhoods to take a look at the protections offered by local historic district ordinances. Many people are confused by what exactly it means to live in a locally designated historic district. Here’s a list of things a historic district ordinance can and can’t do:

A Preservation Ordinance does:
Establish an objective and democratic process for designating historic properties.
Protect the integrity of designated districts with a design review requirement for new construction or demolition.
Authorize design guidelines for new development within historic districts to ensure that it is not destructive to the area’s historic character.
Stabilize declining neighborhoods and protect and enhance property values.

A Preservation Ordinance does not:
Require permission to change paint color on your house.
Restrict the sale or use of the property.
Require approval of any interior changes to your house.
Prevent compatible new construction within historic areas.
Require approval for ordinary repair or maintenance.

We are very fortunate to live in a city with an in-place historic preservation ordinance, Historic Preservation Commission and Historic Resources survey, Resource Manual and Design Guidelines (all available at City Hall). Decatur also has two locally designated historic districts: the McDonough-Adams-Kings Highway district and the Clairemont Avenue district (an application is pending for designation of Ponce de Leon Court). But other historic neighborhoods without the protection of historic district ordinances as described in the city’s Resource Manual include: Lenox Place; College View (Adair,
Hibernia, Greenwood Circle, parts of West Howard); Ponce de Leon Terrace; Ponce de Leon Heights (Coventry, Woodlawn, Fairfield, Nelson Ferry); the Great Lakes; Clairemont Estates (Vidal, Lamont, Garden Lane); “Old Decatur” (Sycamore, Hillyer, Sycamore Place, Barry, Pate and North Candler); Glenwood Estates; Oakhurst; and Winnona Park. The City of Decatur has allowed property owners applying for local historic district status to participate in writing the ordinances that cover their neighborhoods; therefore, an ordinance covering the Clairemont Avenue historic district differs in some ways from the ordinance covering the MAK district. The DPA feels that both historic district ordinances have been popular among residents and extremely successful in preventing demolition of historic properties and promoting appropriate
design of new construction in these neighborhoods. Decatur’s historic neighborhoods
define the character of our city. The DPA in its mission to preserve these historic places urges Decaturites to learn more about the history and architecture of their neighborhoods and the tools available to them to protect them. To access the city-commissioned survey of historic neighborhoods visit www.decaturpreservationalliance. com, and click “Resources.”