See the message below from Capitol Hill resident Nancy Metzger and head of the DC Historic Districts Coalition.
The Thursday, October 22, 2009 Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) meeting agenda includes "taking comments" on the proposed revised regulations for historic district designation.
There has been heated and lively commentary on neighborhood lists regarding the topic of having neighborhoods historically designated.
If you feel passionate on this topic -- in opposition or support -- you are invited to participate in the discussion. One opportunity is the upcoming HPRB meeting.
REGULATIONS FOR HISTORIC LANDMARK AND HISTORIC DISTRICT DESIGNATIONS
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 Historic Districts 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 regulations.)
· 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.”