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, September 10, 2007

How are the boundaries of a local historic district determined?

When defining local historic district boundaries you must use the guidelines developed by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. A district must be a definable geographic area that can be distinguished from surrounding properties by changes such as density, scale, type, age, style of sites, buildings and documented differences in patterns of historic development.

Historic districts are typically a concentrated area of contiguous resources. Historic district boundaries should be based on three factors: historic significance, physical integrity of resources, and/or the location of significant geographic features.


ante gamisou said...

I am currently undecided as I see benefits for both sides. Drawing an accurate boundary is very difficult and important to success. Some of the streets certainly have better concentration of significant building than others. I don't understand what is purpose of including retail area? The only significant buildings of this area I see are the Scottish Rite Campus. Could including so many non-significant structures like this actually impair the efforts to save more significant buildings in better defined areas?

robert said...


First, the boundaries for the district have not been determined.

Second, a commercial property owner asked that the commercial district be included. From what I read regarding the recommendations for boundaries for historic districts it is beneficial to attach to or run tangent to other historic resources. This does much to boost the preservation of this historic resource for the entire City of Decatur.

The Oakhurst Commercial District does much to define a sense of place for our community. There is significant history related through the years for all buildings.

The development of a local historic district provides recognition for an area and attracts visitors from the immediate surrounding communities and from across the country. This improved visibility makes commercial development within a local historic district a lower risk investment.

The sense of place is important for this visibility to distinguish an area from any new shopping center development found in the close surrounding area. This distinction is what gives our local business a competitive edge.

Seek more information. My recommendation is support of the local historic district.

Samuel said...

Do what it takes. We support historic districts. www.historicnearwestside.com

ante gamisou said...

Is it not sending the wrong message to include ugly, poorly built, non-significant retail building with the same wonderful group of historic bungalow? Come see our wonderful historic neighborhood with ugly non-historic retail building? I believe Mr. Robert to be missing the point of historic district. If you bring people to a historic neighborhood because of retail area hosting festival, then should they not expect to see historic retail building? This reasoning to me sounds more political than historical. I personally feel the neighborhood would benefit from removing some of the ugly retail building for new and better designed building. I want to preserve history, yet something seems strange about a boundary including more recent, bad history that should be forgotten, not preserved. How can we have credibility and be taken seriously when parts of this proposal seem not to be pertaining to history?

Anonymous said...

Hi Ante,
As I understand it the retail that you are referring to will be considered noncontributing and will have looser guidelines to include the ability to demolish them. What LHD of these properties will allow is for the community to have a voice in what is built there because it adds a public hearing process. Currently in the city of Decatur there is no public hearing process for any development unless there is a request for variance in the zoning. The commercial area is too important to the community and to the history of Oakhurst to allow developers to come in a build whatever they want without some community input.

ante gamisou said...

I understand your point, but the neighborhood has no capacity or legal opportunity to decide about historic property. This is completely decided by HPC. The level of historic quality will not change this. The HPC could force us to keep these ugly buildings and the neighborhood will have no say. Do you really think a new building will be more ugly than Hop & Shop or the perpetually empty grocery store? These are tremendously ugly eye sores that I could live without. It would take great effort to make uglier building.

Anonymous said...

Actually the Hop and Shop building itself if you look at it is kind of cool. It looks like it was built in the 50s or 60s and kind of has a retro look to it. It does need work but I wouldn't say it is ugly or that it needs to be replaced.

ante gamisou said...

I look forward to community input meetings! The HPC where I used to live did not allow the community to make decisions, so maybe Decatur is unique in this way. Thank you for answering some of my questions.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid, ante, it is the same way in Decatur. Five unelected members of the HPC will make decisions.

Robert said...

The question of why include ugly buildings was asked here. I guess my question back, is why would you assume that including the buildings would keep them ugly? As many studies listed on this blog suggest local historic designation often creates a boost of commercial development. The buildings you speak of have been in the same condition for 20 years without a local historic district. Many of us know that the problem is not the market's lack of desire to purchase the property, because inquiries have been made. The lack of historic district or excluding that property from the historic district will not cause it to or not to be sold. The owner must have a desire to sell.

Kirkwood is an excellent example. It took the owner of the buildings (which were allowed to be demolished by neglect) to sell the property for something else to be built. Ironically, this happened about the same time they began pursuing historic district designation.

However, let's say three years down the road it is sold. I would hate for what ever is built on that 2.11 acre lot (plus opportunity for more because of other adjacent property owned) to detract from the historic buildings that exists today. That distraction will make us look like any main street usa and will not give our businesses a competitive edge. This does not even address the most important aspect we would lose, our sense of place and devalue our (as citizens of Decatur) valuable historic resource. A smart development would enhance those resources for a better tomorrow.

I do regret you do not recognize some of the historic significance of some of the buildings in the commercial area. There is really only one property that is a burden. You should spend time with the seniors in our community and research the history of those buildings. It may give you a better understanding of why those resources are very valuable and very important to preserve.