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.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The multitude of flyers makes the question of how LHD will affect property values confusing

There have been multiple flyers circulated to residents lately. One flyer states that Local Historic District can make my property value go down. Another flyer states that Local Historic District will make my property values increase and therefore increase my property taxes. Which statement is accurate.

First, yes your taxes will increase if your property values increase. Most residents purchase their homes in hopes that the value will increase in an effort to increase their equity and personal wealth. At the very least we do not want our investment to decrease.

The question of whether Local Historic District increases or decreases property values is a difficult question to answer because there are so many factors that can impact property values. There are a number of studies listed on this blog site throughout June and July and we encourage you to read them all. Our research has shown that of all the studies we could find there are about 80% that say Local Historic District is good for property values and 15% that show some negative impact. The other studies indicate that the affect may be more neutral because Local Historic District is often sought once a neighborhood becomes desirable and then experiences threats to the historic character. We did find one study that stated that Local Historic Districts are protected from downfalls in the real estate market.

There are numerous studies that indicate that maintaining the character of the neighborhood is good for property values. Wide variations in housing architectural styles or wide variances in the look of a home from the street make an area less desirable. It loses its curb appeal. This is not to say there can not be any individuality or variance in homes and does not endorse the monolithic styling of many new neighorhoods. This is not to say that all homes should be the same size. A 1200 square foot home and 3600 square foot home can reside side by side without violating either the principals of archtectural similarity or look from the street. This harmony is not easy but can maintain the unique character of a neighborhood, maintain diversity in housing size and price, maintain diversity in residents, and maintain consistent property value increases.

Local Historic District is not just about preserving or increasing property values. Historic preservation is a program just out of its infancy when compared to preservation of other resources. In the beginning what was thought important to preserve was old, largely internationally signficant sights. Many of them were related to wars. Next came the preservation of the homes or scenes from the life of someone nationally famous. Why? Because a place says a lot about what makes a person and give you a sense of time and place that words on a plaque can not convey. Next came the preservation of events or people that were not so old. Because as we become a more populous nation we began to lose our resources rapidly. Now there is great value place on areas that still convey the sense of place of ordinary lives. We live in such a place. Oakhurst represents the defining architecture for Decatur as it entered its biggest building boom. It also clearly illustrates the transition from rail to trolley to car and back to rail. This is a valuable resource that many resident feel we need to preserve. Every home that is needlessly torn down removes some of that history. We do not advocate no demolition or no new construction or no renovation. Rather we advocate smart demolition, smart development, smart new construction and smart renovation that provides a win-win for our neighborhood.


kocpzo said...

Who provided the conflicting information presented? Is it the same group or one group versus the other?

kindred said...

I can only answer this question from my perspective, but I received a flyer via mail from OAKHURST ONE that stated my values would decrease. My neighbor received another mailed document of several pages from OAKHURST ONE that stated her property values would increase as would her taxes. I received another flyer from Neighbors In Support of the Proposed Local Historic District that pointed to several studies that indicate that property values increase.

SD said...

The reason the question of property values is confusing is because it's contextual and subjective. Consider the following:

T or F? Studies have shown a correlation between LHDs and an increase in property values? True.

T or F? Studies have shown a correlation between LHDs and a decrease in property values? True.

Why? Because the purview of an LHD is just one component in the larger picture of home value drivers. Furthermore, such studies can reflect bias on the part of the author or the agenda of an organization funding the study.

Long story short, analytical value analysis is not the point here.

The value of place, the connections we feel to it, our love of its history and concern for its future are all emotional issues. Some people feel it deeply, while others not so much.

When the Romans spoke of community, the word they used -- civitas -- referred both to the physical place itself and the people who inhabited, interacted and governed it. They could not conceive of community absent either of those components. Today, some people continue to feel this way.

Still, others think of community solely in terms of people. This is not surprising, given the relative absence of any truly endearing neighborhood having been constructed anywhere in the past forty years. Our culture no longer puts the same value on form and harmony it once did, and there is now significantly less shared agreement on what constitutes beauty.

Long story short, creating and protecting places of timeless physical form and integrity requires some level (how much is a matter of debate) of personal sacrifice in deference to collective value. Some people view this as a no-brainer and well worth it while others see it as a chipping away of personal liberty.

However, if you've talked with many people around the neighborhood, you've likely had the same experience I have: Most people fall somewhere in the middle.

This is an emotional issue. Whichever side eases up on the rhetoric and plays to those on the fence will, as in national politics, likely emerge on top. Not the study peddlers.