Tuesday, September 22, 2009

here is your opportunity to oppose or support the proposed regulations for neighborhood historic designation

Okay, neighborhood historic designations haters and lovers!

Here is your golden opportunity to weigh in.

See the message below from Capitol Hill resident Nancy Metzger, head of the DC Historic Districts Coalition.

(This message was posted on the Historic Washington list at Yahoogroups, moderated by Chevy Chase resident Mary Rowse.)

Those who are passionate in opposition or support of the proposed regulations governing the establishment of new historic neighborhoods in DC are invited to commment to the DC Historic Preservation Office (HPO).

Is there an active effort to get Bloomingdale designated at this time? No.

But be assured, some group of residents in Bloomingdale will initiate an effort to do so, so residents need to be educated and be informed.

Posted by: merowse @ aol.com
Mon Sep 21, 2009 8:33 am

From: Nancy Metzger, Historic Districts Coalition

A final draft of new regulations for designating historic districts and historic landmarks has been published and the Historic Preservation Review Board will be taking comments at the October 22 meeting. These regulations have changed in important ways since the public participation issue was discussed last year at the Cheh-Bowser Bill legislative hearing. At the Council hearing, many Coalition members and others in the preservation community testified about the importance of public participation in the process but also suggested changes in the legislation that would have impacted the designation procedure. The complete regulations, showing corrections, can be accessed through the HPO web site. Comments on the proposed regulation should be submitted, in writing, to Tersh Boasberg, Chairman, Historic Preservation Review Board, 2000 14th Street, NW, 4th Floor, Washington, DC 20009.

Several key points:

* All property owners will be notified of pending designation and owners have the right to submit a statement to the Board before the hearing stating their objections or their support. (It appears that an earlier mail-back ballot idea has been dropped.)

* It would require a majority of owners expressing their opposition in written form to block the nomination. They could testify at a hearing but the staff would tally the written comments. If the Board feels that there is not broad community support, particularly as indicated by the written comments, then there's a waiting period of 12 months before a nomination can be reconsidered. (The regs explicitly say the applicant doesn't have to demonstrate universal support or support from those declining to register an opinion. This waiting period is a change from the much longer waiting periods suggested by the Cheh-Bowser bill but is in line with the federal

* Although the regulations say listings in the DC Inventory can be amended or revoked, it also says properties may be removed only if they no longer meet the criteria for designation. (So there does not seem to be a method to remove properties if they just become unpopular or inconvenient somehow.)

* There is a section that requires draft historic district guidelines for each individual historic district that must be distributed before a determination is made by the Board. (The guidelines would be revised later, taking into account comments from the Board and public, after the nomination is acted on. This follows the Foxhall Village adoption scenario.)

* In addition, there is a section that states the Board, Mayor's Agent, and staff may use the Comprehensive Plan and the Historic Preservation Plan for "additional guidance on the listing of properties in the DC Inventory and on the review of construction affecting historic landmarks and historic districts."

Draft Window Standards Released for Public Comment

As just about anyone involved in historic preservation at the neighborhood level can attest, there is often controversy swirling about window replacement. The Historic Preservation Office has released draft window standards for comment.

There is emphasis on repair first and retention of historic material where possible. When replacement is necessary, emphasis is on how close it looks to the original / historic window. An important change is that some materials other than wood may be approved if the appearance closely matches. (The standards say, "Matching the original material of historic windows is strongly encouraged. alternative materials may be approved if they can convincingly replicate the appearance of the historic window and appreciably undistinguishable from the original material.") This lets open the door for some of the newer materials (fibrex, for example) and others yet to be discovered while keeping the emphasis on how the proposed new window would function visually as a replacement for historic windows. As with the present standard, there is a less stringent materials requirement for windows in the rear or non-primary facades.

This is a first draft that has been released for comment by the public and HPRB (available through the Historic Preservation Office website). It is scheduled for comment at the October 22 Board meeting. In addition, comments can be sent in writing to the Historic Preservation Office, 2000 14th Street, NW, Fourth Floor, Washington, DC 20009. The window standards will be submitted to the Office of Attorney General for a legal sufficiency review after consideration of the Board and public comments and any necessary revision.

Nancy Metzger


Anonymous said...

This isn't THAT much of a snoozer topic, is it?

Where are all of you who get riled up whenver the idea of having Bloomingdale historically designated comes up?

Time to comment!

-- Scott Roberts of Bloomingdale

Mat said...

Scott, I haven't lived in the neighborhood for very long so I'm not familiar with the arguments for designating Bloomingdale a historic neighborhood. Could you just give a bit of context around why some residents are pushing for this? Thanks.

-- Mat Bader of Bloomingdale

Anonymous said...

There are valid positions for opposing and supporting neighborhood historic designation.

I suppose the biggest issue in support of having Bloomingdale historically designated would that there were be public input -- design review -- for pop-ups. Pop-ups are floors added to the top of exsting rowhouses.

Property owners would no longer be able to construct pop-ups as a matter-of-right without HPO/HPRB input.

-- Scott Roberts of Bloomingdale

bamoll said...

Bloomingdale needs an historic designation. Most of the rowhouses in our neighborhood are well over 100-years old, and the charm and character of the neighborhood decreases a bit for every half-thought pop-up that goes up. If (northern parts of) Capitol Hill, LeDroit Park and Shaw are worthy of historic designation, then Bloomingdale should be a no-brainer. Where do I sign?

-B from B'Dale

North Capitol Home Owner said...

I'd need to read through the regulations that govern a historic district, but wouldn't designating Bloomingdale handcuff those people that cannot afford to comply with historic district regulations? Or, does a historic district board evaluate each repair on a case by case basis?

North Capitol Home Owner said...

Sorry, forgot to post my name.

-- Mat from Bloomingdale

Anonymous said...