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.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Georgia Cities and Counties with Historic Preservation Ordinances
1. Acworth
2. Albany
3. Americus
4. Ashburn
5. Athens-Clarke County
6. Atlanta
7. Augusta-Richmond Co.
8. Avondale Estates
9. Bowdon
10. Brunswick

11. Calhoun
12. Camilla
13. Carrollton
14. Cartersville
15. Cedartown

16. Clayton County
17. Cobb County
18. Colquitt
19. Columbus
20. Conyers
21. Cordele
22. Covington

23. Culloden
24. Dahlonega
25. Dalton
26. Darien

27. Dawsonville
28. Decatur
29. DeKalb County
30. Douglas
31. Douglasville

32. Dublin
33. Eatonton
34. Elberton
35. Euharlee
36. Fannin County
37. Fayetteville
38. Fitzgerald
39. Flowery Branch

40. Forsyth
41. Fort Oglethorpe
42. Fort Valley
43. Gainesville
44. Grantville
45. Greensboro
46. Griffin

47. Gordon County
48. Hahira
49. Hampton
50. Harlem
51. Hartwell
52. Hawkinsville
53. Heard County
54. Hinesville
55. Hogansville
56. Holly Springs
57. Jefferson
58. Jones County
59. Kennesaw
60. La Grange
61. Lavonia
62. Lexington
63. Lilly
64. Lincolnton
65. Locust Grove
66. Ludowici
67. Macon
68. Madison
69. Marietta
70. Marshallville
71. McDonough
72. McDuffie County
73. McIntosh County
74. Midville
75. Milledgeville
76. Monroe
77. Montezuma
78. Monticello

79. Moreland
80. Moultrie
81. Newnan
82. Oxford
83. Parrott
84. Pike County
85. Plains
86. Porterdale
87. Quitman
88. Reidsville
89. Richland
90. Rome
91. Roopville
92. Roswell
93. Rutledge
94. Savannah
95. Senoia
96. Social Circle
97. Sparta-Hancock Co.
98. St. Marys
99. Stone Mountain

100. Talking Rock
101. Taylor County
102. Thomaston
103. Thomasville
104. Tifton
105. Troup County

106. Tybee Island
107. Valdosta
108. Vienna
109. Walker County
110. Warm Springs
111. Washington
112. Waycross
113. Wayne County
114. Waynesboro
115. West Point
116. Whitfield County
117. Winder
118. Wrens

Bold indicates Certified Local Governments (72)

The principles for creating local design-review programs are spelled out in state legislation. In Georgia the Historic Preservation Act of 1980 enables local ordinances and provides guidance for the establishment of local preservation commissions. When the federal legislation created the CLG program in that year, a legislative framework and a grant fund were created that strengthened community preservation programs through a formal link with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).

Friday, October 19, 2007

Another quote from Rome, New York

What does being an owner of a property in the Historic District mean to me - can I make changes to my property?

Historic districts are not designed to prevent changes. Rather, they assist in shaping changes that enhance the historic assets that make a property and the district unique. Rome’s Historic District properties are protected by a special design review process that helps ensure that proposed changes are compatible with the nature of the property and character of the surrounding properties.

Their review process is very similar to Decatur, Georgia.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Pending Development Could Impact Your Property Values

Pending Development Could Impact Your Property Values

Our historic neighborhood is surrounding by large tracts of commercial property. Just like the development of MARTA, the development of these tracts will have a major impact on the unique historic character of our neighborhood. Poor redevelopment will detract from the sense of place that once was the original town of Oakhurst and what the 1987 survey by Darlene Roth states defines architecture in Decatur. The benefit of ensuring these properties respect the historic character of our neighborhood has the added benefit of making sure all of Oakhurst retains that sense of place that we all love. There are also opportunities under Local Historic District Ordinance to provide incentives for reconstruction and disincentives for allowing a property to stay in a state of neglect.

Boys and Girls Club is considering relocating. The zoning for this 5.5 acres+ lot is R60. R60 Zoning uses without public hearing include single-family dwellings, elementary, middle, and secondary schools, public utilities, public buildings, churches, and family personal care homes. There is sufficient room for a planned residential development. Under the proposed new infill guidelines the homes can get progressively taller.

Thankful Baptist Church is zoned institution and comprises 3.82 acres+
Institutional zoning allows for Churches and other places of worship, associated single-family, two-family and multiple-family dwellings, colleges, seminaries, related professional offices, public and private schools, nursery schools, an small business, clinics, medical and dental offices, boarding and rooming houses, and clubs. Maximum building height allowed is 45 feet.

Bell South was purchased by AT&T and they are re-evaluating their real estate holdings. This 7.85 acre+ land area is zoned C-1. Maximum building height is 40 feet and three stories, minimum set back is zero. Set back next to residential is only 10 feet side yard and 30 feet real line. Uses for C-1 Local include retail shops, appliance sales and service, drugstores, and other sales and service establishments. Food, furniture and hardware stores, clinics, medical office buildings, professional office buildings, and financial institutions are also allowed. None of these uses require a public hearing.

The commercial property located at 636 East Lake Drive in the Oakhurst commercial district is 2.11 acres of C-1 property too. Similarly, the small commercial areas located at Mead Road and West College Avenue (.25 acre) and at Feld Avenue and West College Avenue (.25) are zoned C-1 local. It is also rumored that Marta is considering selling their parking lot between West College Avenue and Park Place for development (.75 acre).

Development of all of these properties could have an immediate and direct impact on your property value and enjoyment of your home. Within a local historic district a public hearing would be required even for the approved uses under the zoning laws. That would give you the opportunity to protect your home and your largest investment. Outside of a local historic district you do not have that luxury.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Buying a Home in a Historic District

Buying a Home in a Historic District


A National Register citation confirms a home's historic significance, but the real worth may be realized in the stability and strength of the property's value. A 2000 study of South Carolina home sales shows that homes in Columbia's historic districts sold 26 percent faster than the overall market; while historic Beauport owners saw a whopping 21 percent greater sale price. In Rome, Georgia, properties in designated historic neighborhoods increased in value 10 percent more than similar properties without historic designation between 1980 and 1996. Studies in Texas, New York, and Pennsylvania corroborate the positive effect an historic district designation has on property values, with overall increases between 5 percent and 20 percent. The stability of property value appears to extend to owner tenure as well: There is a reportedly lower owner turnover within historic districts than in neighborhoods lacking that distinction.

What are the advantages of Local Historic District?

This is from a website for Rome, New York. The town has about 35,000 residents. More information regarding the City can be found at http://www.romenewyork.com/detail.asp?key=2201. It is an interesting perspective.

People purchase historic properties for many reasons . . .

Some like the idea of owning a "piece of history” and believe that quality of construction in older structures is superior to that found in modern structures. Large rooms, high ceilings, rich materials and intricate details are often an attraction. Other people simply like urban neighborhoods or rural areas in which historic properties are found. Established landscapes and mature plants and trees surrounding historic properties often add significant value. Properties in need of repair can often be purchased at a reduced price, enabling the purchaser to increase value through restoration and rehabilitation. Whatever the reason, it can be said that investing in historic properties and in historic districts helps preserve the history of the community for future generations to enjoy and learn. Historic districts have a unique sense of place desired by many people.

Owning property in a local historic district helps ensure that the neighborhood will be protected from unmanaged change. Because the review process requires public comment, neighboring property owners are usually given an opportunity to review and comment on alterations in their area before a decision is rendered. Owners have the security of knowing that neighboring properties will not suffer unsympathetic changes. Property owners historic districts are sometimes eligible to receive benefits not available to others in the city and are usually able to take advantage of preservation experts who work and volunteer for the city. Grant money may be available for professional design assistance, fa├žade renovation and other projects to help preserve the area, which may encourage new investment. Local, State and Federal tax incentives also become available to designated Historic District properties to encourage owners to improve their buildings and bring investment to core neighborhoods.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

March CNN Story

Here is an excerpt from CNN’s Open House aired 3/31/2007. The City of Atlanta has passed new zoning that are aimed at limiting the size and mass of in-fill housing. Note that one architect states the difficulty of accomplishing that goal through zoning as opposed to a zoning overlay.

Also Atlanta City Councilwoman Norwood points out the oversized house can literally cause the smaller house to lose value because it is only worth the land. It becomes a tear-down. Norwood was behind the newly passed zoning.

Local historic district zoning overlay helps to maintain the character and look of neighborhoods. It protects the unique historic character of an area while still allowing additions, new construction, growth and development. It takes a little more work, but the results can be phenomenal.

The entire transcript can be found at http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0703/31/oh.01.html. Here is the entire piece regarding McMansions

WILLIS: McMansions, those oversized homes that seem to be popping up all over the country. Well, they're not always popular. In fact, some neighbors are downright determined to keep those ginormous (ph) houses out of their town. That's what's going on right now in Atlanta.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)WILLIS (voice over): Drive through Atlanta's older neighborhoods, and they're hard to miss -- new houses, most of them big, and some the subject of controversy.

DORIS BETZ, ATLANTA RESIDENT: If you go down the streets and you see these out-of-scale, out-of-proportion homes to the craftsmen bungalows around it, it just looks like it doesn't belong. It's just not keeping with the integrity, the historic integrity.

DAVIS: Atlanta City Councilwoman Mary Norwood is leading the fight against so-called McMansions.

MARY NORWOOD, ATLANTA CITY COUNCILWOMAN: If you are the egregious example and you are three to four times the size of the house next door, that house can literally lose value because it is only worth the land. It becomes a tear-down.

WILLIS: Norwood is trying to pass new regulations that would limit the size of houses, and she hopes would help maintain the character and look of Atlanta's signature neighborhoods. But critics say the regulations won't work.

DAVID GREEN, ATLANTA ARCHITECT: If they make the changes that are proposed, it's going to become an incredibly complicated, complex process, that ultimately really won't have any effect on the way that we see the houses from the street. [zoning laws changes make it more complex]

WILLIS: The proposed regulations are complex, but they boil down to restricting the square footage and height of a new home, based on the size and elevation of the lot.

COOPER PIERCE, ATLANTA ARCHITECT: I think we have come up with recommendations that will limit that bulk, but still allow people, if they want to build a 3,000-square foot home or a 5,000-square foot home in an existing neighborhood. [recommendation are similar to the local historic district design guidelines]

WILLIS: But opponents say the regulations won't allow even modest two-story homes to be built on some lots. And some folks here say in order to bring families into established communities, larger houses are a necessity. [local historic district allow the community to create specific guidelines that protect their specific resources]

CINDY DAVIS, ATLANTA HOMEOWNER: People don't want to live in a small house anymore. People want to have a larger house, especially if it's more than one person living there, you know. This neighborhood traditionally had been a lot of single people, a lot of younger people, and that's changing. And the housing stock is changing with that. [actually the neighborhood is only 15% single, 15% retired, 25% married/committed no kids, rest are families - scare tactic from the neighbor]

WILLIS: Changes that could have a major impact on the look and feel of Atlanta's neighborhoods. (END VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIS: Those proposed regulations are still being debated in Atlanta. The earliest they could go into effect, May of this year.

What does the majority report from the infill task force say?

Drawings that reflect what could be built under the majority infill report. Note that with a sloping lot the maximum height could reach 40-42'. That is much taller than what is allowed under the current zoning.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Quote from the historic survey in 1987

"Oakhurst and related sections (Greater Decatur and East End) represent what Decatur was becoming and was to become when these parts were annexed to the city in 1915 and 1916. After Oakhurst, the moderately scaled, modestly decorated, soily nestled suburban house was the norm for Decatur. There were no more large scale subdivisions carried out in Decatur which had the architectural pretensions of an Adamas Street or its large scale....Thus Oakhurst and all the related subdivision constitutes the most represetnative kind of historic building Decatur has...it is the recommendation here that the City take whatever actions it can to enable itself to effectively and efficiently establish a balance between new developments and older constructions, to maintain scale and landscape effects, and to encourage new architecture which is sympathetic to the endemic styles. The kind of community identity rooted in landscape and architectural features which Decatur enjoys is a precious resource, one to be carefully and thoughtfully safeguarded. ... Because of the richness of its base of resources, however, the City of Decatur could yield to the tempation of taking them for granted. Should this happen, much more erosion of the qualities of life which have made Decatur a special place could occur."

This was 20 years ago. Since 2000 Oakhurst has experienced a surge of demolition and new construction unlike any other part of the City of Decatur. From the data available we are losing one home to demolition per month.

Quotes from the Architectural Survey of 1990

"This section of Decatur, the southwest, contains some of the oldest subdivisions in the city. The Oakhurst Subdivision lie in the area bounded roughly by Third Avenue on the north, and by the city limits on the south. The eastern boundary is Fatetteville Road, and the western boundary is the city limits.

The predominant architectural style is the bungalow with a little or great amount of Craftsman detailing. Excellent examples of all levels of variation exist in the area. In addition, the Oakhurst subdivisions also have good examples of Queen Annes, Pyramidal Cottages, two-story craftsmans, Gabled Ells, Georgian Revival Bungalows, Temple Forms, Minimal Traditionals, American Foursquare, and a few English Vernacular Revivals. Oakhurst is a dense repository of all of the historic house forms found in Decatur."

Answer to a previous comment regarding COAs


The following question appeared on the blog we are managing.

Sec. 58-3. Definitions.The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this chapter, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning: Certificate of appropriateness means a document evidencing approval by the historic preservation commission of an application to make a material change in the appearance of a designated historic property or of a property located within a designated historic district. Certificate of exemption means a document evidencing approval by the historic preservation commission or its authorized designee of an application to make a change other than a material change as defined by the design guidelines adopted as part of the ordinance designating the specific local historic property or local historic district. Exterior architectural features means the architectural style, general design and general arrangement of the exterior of a building or other structure including, but not limited to, the kind or texture of the building material and the type and style of all windows, doors, signs and other appurtenant architectural fixtures, features, details or elements relative to the foregoing. Exterior environmental features means all those aspects of the landscape or the development of a site which affect the historical character of the property. Historic district means a geographically definable area designated by city commission as a historic district pursuant to the criteria established in section
58-62. Historic property means an individual building, structure, site, object or work of art, including the adjacent area necessary for the proper appreciation thereof, designated by city commission as a historic property pursuant to the criteria established in section
58-63. Material change in appearance means a change that will affect either the exterior architectural or environmental features of a historic property or any building, structure, site, object, landscape feature or work of art within a historic district, such as: (1) A reconstruction or alteration of the size, shape or facade of a historic property, including any doors or windows or removal or alteration of any architectural features, details or elements;(2) Demolition or relocation of a historic structure; (3) Commencement of excavation for construction purposes;(4) A change in the location of advertising visible from a public right-of-way; or(5) The erection, alteration, restoration or removal of any building or other structure within a historic property or district, including walls, fences, steps and pavements, or other appurtenant features.

Does this mean non-contributing homes do not require a COA?

It would seem to indicate that demolition of non-contributing homes and new construction require a COA, Other alterations would not. Is this correct? Thanks.

All “material changes” to a building, structure, site etc. require design review. The ordinance designates what level of review based on the project (COA/COE), the review jurisdiction (four sides, visible from right of way), and the design guidelines outline what types of changes are compatible with the district.

Amanda Thompson
City of Decatur

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Quote from the State of Michigan Historic Preservation Commission

Quote from the State of Michigan Historic Preservation Commission.

"The primary reason for establishing local historic districts is to manage how change occurs in a designated area to ensure that as much of the original character as possible remains intact. After all, changes that occur to one property can impact the property next door, the block, and ultimately the neighborhood overall."

"Michigan's Local Historic Districts Act declares historic preservation a public purpose to safeguard a community's heritage, strengthen local economies, stabilize and improve property values, foster civic beauty and promote history."