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City Hall

Change in state law expected to produce fewer historic preservation reviews in Lawrence

June 11, 2013

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The question of what type of developments can be located next to historic structures — a question known to incite a few debates in Lawrence — soon will be asked less frequently.

Beginning July 1, a new state law is expected to more than cut in half the number of Lawrence properties that will require a historic preservation review as part of the development process.

“It is the loss of a planning tool,” said Lynne Braddock Zollner, the city’s historic resources administrator.

The new law eliminates the sometimes contentious state-mandated “environs review” for any project that is within 500 feet of a property listed on the Kansas or National Register of Historic Places.

Under the new law, the state’s historic preservation officer only will be required to review projects that directly impact listed properties. In other words, if you want to construct an addition onto a building listed on the National Register of Historic places, you’ll need the state review. If you want to build a fast-food restaurant on the property next to a historic structure, you won’t need the review.

Zollner said the change in the law "has created quite a bit of conversation in the historic preservation community."

But she said the new law won’t eliminate all environs reviews in Lawrence. That’s because the city also maintains a Lawrence Register of Historic Places. The Lawrence register calls for any development within 250 feet of a property on the local register to go through an environs review.

The local review, however, generally is considered less stringent. In addition to encompassing a smaller review area — 250 feet versus 500 feet — the local law also uses a different set of guidelines to determine if a nearby development is damaging the historic character of a neighborhood.

As a result, historic planners at City Hall are likely to have fewer projects to review. Zollner estimates that a historic resources review would be triggered by development on any of about 1,500 pieces of property in Lawrence. Prior to the state law change, there were about 3,200 pieces of property where development would have triggered a historic resources review.

Zollner, however, said much of the property in downtown Lawrence will be subject to a full-fledged environs review. That’s because much of downtown is listed as a national historic district. The state law requires properties in those nationally recognized districts to undergo state review. In Lawrence, those reviews actually are done by the city’s historic resources staff, which has a contract with the state preservation office to conduct the reviews.

The review process has been contentious at times. It played a major role in projects such as the proposed hotel at Ninth and New Hampshire streets, the Oread hotel, and the downtown building that formerly housed the Borders bookstore and currently is being used as the temporary library. Developers, at times, have argued that the review process has been too stringent and time consuming.

But it wasn’t developers who pushed for the change in the state law governing environs reviews. Instead, it was other cities. Kimberly Winn, deputy director of the League of Kansas Municipalities, said about a dozen communities had expressed concern over the years that the environs review process was making it more difficult to redevelop their downtown areas.

Winn said her organization found that Kansas was the only state in the country to have a state-mandated environs review process. Most states rely on local communities to create their own processes to protect the areas around historic properties.

“This isn’t an anti-preservation effort at all,” Winn said. “There is nothing in the law that would prohibit a community from establishing their own rules or limitations. To us, it was about local control.”

Patrick Zollner, deputy state historic preservation officer — and Lynne Zollner's husband — said most communities in Kansas don’t have any local laws on the books related to historic preservation reviews.

Lawrence is an exception, and Dennis Brown, president of the Lawrence Preservation Alliance, said it probably will become more important to try to convince property owners to have their historic properties added to the Lawrence Register of Historic places. There are several properties that are part of the national or state registers that aren’t on the local register because there currently are no financial incentives, such as tax credits, attached to the local register.

Comments

catfishturkeyhunter 10 months, 1 week ago

The Nazis in WW II are a good example of systematically trying to eliminate entire cultures. Aside from killing off nearly 1/3 of the worlds population of Jewish people at the time, they robbed, stole, and destroyed a ton of historic artifacts and art. By doing this they were not only making profit, but they were eliminating history and ruining the culture of not just Jewish people, but a great deal of other European cultures as well. Once you break a peoples culture, you break their will and reduce their way of life to nothing. That's not to say that is what is happening in Lawrence, but it is something to think about when considering weather a historic artifact is worth preserving or not.

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Leslie Swearingen 10 months, 1 week ago

Who was Kansas named in honor of? Kanza Nation: Kansas was named in honor of the Kanza Nation, a powerful Native American nation noted as far back as 1673. Father Marquette inscribed the name of the "Kanza" nation on his map of 1673. On October 5, 1859, a treaty was made by which a portion of the tribal reservation was set apart, and assigned in severalty to various individuals of the tribe.On May 8, 1872, an act was passed for the appraisal and sale of their lands, and their final removal from the State of Kansas to their reservation in Indian Territory, where they are now located. Their number is now (1882) reduced to about two hundred, a feeble, poverty-stricken remnant of the powerful nation from which the fair State of Kansas derived its name.

http://www.douglas-county.com/aboutus/quick_facts.aspx#kansas

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catfishturkeyhunter 10 months, 1 week ago

When you disregard history and art, your disregarding a peoples culture.

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kansasredlegs 10 months, 1 week ago

Were these "environ reviews" in place when the Law Enforcement & Judicial Center was constructed? Besides the bank building at 9th & Mass, that has to be the ugliest, most non-historical looking building in all of downtown. If such reviews were in place, seems that the local government must be exempt which would be inherently unfair to property owners who have to jump through the circus hoops.

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Matthew Herbert 10 months, 1 week ago

Good decision- property OWNERS should have exclusive right to control THEIR property. Don't want a Taco Bell next to the Eldridge? Better buy that property up then

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dirt 10 months, 1 week ago

"Historic" downtown and the HRC is a joke. Downtown is a bar district in old crumbling buildings, and bum haven. Let people fix the buildings up, and let the businesses prosper.

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hitme 10 months, 1 week ago

I'd love for the city to sponsor a big bonfire so we can say goodbye to the depot.

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swampyankee 10 months, 1 week ago

they might put a starbucks across the street from the Eldridge nope that already happened with the old law

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reality_check79 10 months, 1 week ago

Here it is again... This is comical, scroll through articles online and you don't see anyone bashing the Obama administration for any of the crooked things they are doing and have done in the last 12 months ohhhhh no! It is all entirely the Koch brothers fault! Everything is blamed on two men, nothing is the fault of people in Lawrence, nope! Believe it or not brownback and the Koch brothers really don't care about Lawrence Kansas, in fact most of the state doesn't care! It is not a giant conspiracy so you can take off your foil hats kids... Lawrence has been moving backwards for a while now and most of the people to blame are right here in town.

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kansas_cynic 10 months, 1 week ago

Another example the Koch money buying the Legislature and the joke of a governor.

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tomatogrower 10 months, 1 week ago

Koch and their minions would probably be happy to tear everything down in Kansas and build company housing. What use is an old building to them? It's not making them any money. They worship the god Money, and his misbegotten son, Greed.

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cheeseburger 10 months, 1 week ago

'“It is the loss of a planning tool,” said Lynne Braddock Zollner, the city’s historic resources administrator.'

HA! It's the loss of a way to say 'no', as they are so accustomed to doing in this city.

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patkindle 10 months, 1 week ago

so what is wrong with a taco bell next to the eldridge house? a buck is a buck in downtown Lawrence

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joes_donuts 10 months, 1 week ago

This will give Linda Zollner something to do now, since her job will not be overlapping with her husbands job at the State. Maybe now a house that a developer is moving will not be torn down without anyone from the city even questioning it until it is too late.

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gccs14r 10 months, 1 week ago

Great. So now the whole state can look like 6th and Wakarusa or the Westridge Mall area in Topeka. I can hardly wait. Maybe we can sell naming rights for the name of the state, or at least add a sponsorship line: "Kansas by Monsanto."

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toe 10 months, 1 week ago

Good common sense change to the law.

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