Developers in the future will have to keep an eye on Lawrence's history, under a proposed new policy.
The Lawrence City Commission will take its first official look tonight at the proposed "historic preservation" chapter of Horizon 2020, the city-county plan that guides development decisions.
"The intent is to give people who do invest time and effort to protect historic resources, (assurance) that their investment is going to be protected," Mayor Mike Rundle said Monday.
The plan, among other details, would require officials to list as many properties on the national and state historic registers as possible, creating tax credit opportunities for the property owners.
But placement on the national register comes with restrictions on development within the "environs" -- 500 feet -- of any listed property. Any activity that requires a building permit within those districts, even on buildings that aren't themselves historic, is subject to review by the city's seven-member Historic Resources Commission.
Bobbie Flory, director of the Lawrence Home Builders Assn., said identifying properties eligible for the historic registries isn't a problem.
"If there's a property that's worthy of the historic preservation designation," she said, "now's the time to identify it."
The environs issue, though, prompted Kent Van Hoesen last spring to fight efforts to place the Pinckney Neighborhood on the National Register of Historic Places.
"The environs thing is what troubles me about it," said Van Hoesen, who lives in the 400 block of Ohio Street. "I'm all in favor of preserving historic buildings and historic neighborhoods ... but I think it puts an unfair financial burden on people who don't benefit from it."
Van Hoesen added: "The cost of working on a house at a level that's acceptable to the historic review board is much more than if you do it conventionally."
Lynne Zollner, the city's historic resources administrator, suggested property owners shouldn't worry.
"I think the reality is that with staff and political issues, we're not going to be running out and listing every property that's 50 years or older," she said Monday.
Other details of the proposed plan include:
- Restoring brick streets and sidewalks in the city.
- Conserving rural portions of Douglas County by limiting development outside the Urban Growth Area surrounding Lawrence.
- Taxing properties on the national, state or local historic registers at a lower rate.
- Abolishing or reducing building permit fees for rehabilitation work on historic properties.
|Here are the main goals listed in the proposed historic preservation chapter of Horizon 2020:¢ Incorporate preservation as an important component of city and county planning processes.¢ Conserve the rural character of unincorporated Douglas County in strategic areas.¢ Incorporate preservation incentives into the city and county's economic development policies.¢ Incorporate heritage tourism as an economic development program.¢ Establish outreach and education programs.|
Marci Francisco, a member of the board of the Lawrence Historic Preservation Alliance, welcomed the proposed policy.
"I'm pleased to see the proposal," she said. "It's got a lot of good ideas to make historic preservation of the fabric of economic development."
The commission meets at 6:35 p.m. in City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.