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, September 6, 2007

Houston, we have a problem...

The Houston Heights:
In the first nine weeks of 2007, the amount of "residential demolition" permits sold for the three zip codes that comprise the greater Houston Heights area was 65. THAT EQUALS A DEMOLITION A DAY. When new homes first began appearing in the Heights, they replaced buildings that were falling down or they went onto empty lots and they fit in well and respected the scale of the neighborhood. Nowadays we see perfectly livable and historically significant homes disappear simply because a huge house is more profitable for the speculator. More than half of the original housing stock in the Heights is already gone and Other areas, such as Garden Oaks, Lindale and Eastwood, are following the same path.

Urban neighborhoods that lack strong and consistent deed restrictions are experiencing (or may soon experience) significant tear down of early 20th Century housing and the subsequent building of lot-covering houses and townhomes. Many of the older homes are perfectly livable or restorable but they are demolished because they are not huge. The new lot covering houses have a dramatic effect on neighborhood property values, taxes, neighborhood stability, historic preservation, urban tree canopy, soil permeability (flooding), and a number of environmental issues. Access to affordable urban housing is clearly affected as well.

Sound familiar? Do we let it get to this point before we take action? We are already losing one home per month on average. Will the continuation of that level of demolition make a difference in the look and feel of our neighborhood? Will we lose the sense of place that the historic bungalows give us? Find out more. Support the local historic district.


Anonymous said...

I suggest that if you are so concerned about losing homes to demolition that you put a preservation easement on your home and encourage others to do so as well. The would prevent you having to tell other people through the force of law how their home should look. A historic district is not the only answer!

Anonymous said...

In my studying I found that the first step to preservation easements is some type of historic designation. You can not have a preservation easement without it and in our case Local Historic District is the only one available.

Preservation Easements Are The Answer said...

No, a preservation easement is when you grant an easement to another entity (such as the Decatur Preseration Alliance) to historically preserve a property. You maintain ownership of the property and can sell or transfer the property. But the preservation easement granted to something like the DPA carries with the property, sort of like a utility easement would.

It actually sounds like the perfect solution for the dilemma that we have found ourselves. People who are concerned about their property being preserved long after they are gone can grant an easement, and encourage other likeminded property owners to do so, without forcing the same values on everyone else.

This would actually do something, rather than continue to tear our neighborhood apart with proposals that the majority of people do not support whether they be through zoning changes or proposals to form LHD's.

Anonymous said...

1) When I looked into it there were requirements that needed to be met for you to be able to have a preservation easement and one of those requirements is some kind of historic designation. You cannot have a preservation easement on a 1980's ranch and to address this they require you to have some kind of local, state or national designation. I am unsure if the requirements would be different for each organization that grants the easement or not.
2) This doesn't address the issue. The issue is with the neighborhood character, history and architecture not individuals houses. The houses that are in the most danger of destruction are the ones that are likely to be sold in the near future. Why would someone that is planning on moving in the near future go through the process of setting something like this up?
3) Where do you get your numbers on majorities not wanting it? Was there a vote?
4) The neighborhood isn't torn apart from my perspective. I have just as many friends as I did before this, if not more.

Preservation Easements is NOT the ANSWER to our woes. said...

The beauty of our neighborhood is not in one particular home, it is in the cohesiveness found in our streets. We currently still have some fantastic streets lined with one great Bungalow after another – complimenting each other in size, scale, and front porches. Saving one Bungalow here or there, won’t save the beauty of our neighborhood – it needs to be done as a collective group.

Anonymous said...

The people that care enough about the neighborhood to get a preservation easement are not likely to be selling their house and leaving the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Not to mention the trees we have in Oakhurst and how so many 100+ year old trees die every time a lot is redeveloped. My neighbor's trees and house effect my property value because people buy the street as well as the house. How often do home buys say I don't like that house because I don't like the street it's on? Or, I love that street? That is what we are trying to preserve and perservation easements don't do that.