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.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Local Historic Districts Article

Local Historic Districts

Local historic districts do not have to meet the exact same guidelines as a national historic district. Many cities use guidelines similar to the national ones but also allow for some leniency in determining what is significant to the community and how best to take care of it.

Creating a local historic district requires two things. The first is a local preservation ordinance, which is the legislation that provides the rules for how historic resources will be identified and preserved, and the second is a historic preservation commission. These commissions may go by different names in different states, but their general mission is to identify local historic districts and ensure that growth takes place appropriately within them. Members of these commissions are usually citizens of the town, often appointed by the city councils.

A resident can contact the historic preservation commission to let them know about the historic qualifications of the neighborhood. The commission prepares a report for the local elected officials, detailing the district's significance, the boundaries and each property address within the district.

The commission must then hold public hearings with ample notification for all property owners in the district. Local historic districts require tremendous community support. After considering public input, the commission makes a recommendation to the local officials, who may adopt, alter or reject the historic designation.

Local historic districts carry rules about how a property appears, and this is what largely differentiates national from local historic districts. Homeowners in a national historic district are not bound by any commitment as to how their property will look or by any rules that govern future home repair.

By consenting to a local historic district, residents are agreeing to follow a set of local regulations that govern new building in the area. The regulations are enforced by the historic preservation commission in a process known as local design review. The local design guidelines govern any building in the area, which is why historic district status is sometimes aimed at keeping condo developers and big box superstores out of the neighborhood. New buildings must usually incorporate a certain style or compatible exterior, which prevents a lot of different-looking buildings from trying to crowd into the same space. Already existing houses have to follow certain rules as well. These rules may relate to all exterior features including windows, doors, rooflines, paint colors and materials used to conduct repairs.

There can be a lot of benefits to local design review. The guidelines require better upkeep of homes and yards, which may increase home values. In 2005, researchers found that home values in historic districts in Memphis, Tenn. rose 14 percent to 23 percent higher than homes in non-historic areas [source: Munoz]. They can also lead to an increased sense of neighborhood pride and feeling of community, and historic districts might drive tourism dollars into the community.