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[10 on Tuesday] 10 Ways to Keep the "Local" in a Local Historic District
 

[10 on Tuesday] 10 Ways to Keep the "Local" in a Local Historic District

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We’ve covered several aspects of creating local historic districts, including deciding to establish a local historic district, considering where its boundaries should be, and getting community ...

We’ve covered several aspects of creating local historic districts, including deciding to establish a local historic district, considering where its boundaries should be, and getting community buy-in. In this toolkit, we look at keeping the "local" in your historic district, because districts are not a one-size-fits-all solution.

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    [10 on Tuesday] 10 Ways to Keep the "Local" in a Local Historic District [10 on Tuesday] 10 Ways to Keep the "Local" in a Local Historic District Presentation Transcript

    • 10 Ways to Keep the "Local"in a Local Historic District Photo courtesy National Trust for Historic Preservation
    • 1. Think beyond your buildings.The most successful historic districts take the streetscape andsurrounding landscape into account. Aiken, SC, for example, usesits historic district to not only manage the built environment, but alsoto maintain the community’s pastoral quality -- with even certaintrees designated as landmarks. Photo courtesy carlfbagge, Flickr
    • 2. Consider your localzoning regulations.Historic districts work best when they are hand-in-hand with supportive land use and zoninglaws. To achieve this balance -- and avoid anincompatible big-box store in your historicdowntown -- it may be necessary to amend localzoning.Photo courtesy National Trust for Historic Preservation
    • Photo courtesy carlfbagge, Flickr3. Look for signs.That is, consider the signage in and adjacent to your proposedhistoric district. Is it of appropriate size and design for the area?And more importantly, are there any unusual “signs” -- like muralsor neon -- that might not fit current design guidelines but shouldbe protected as part of the character of the neighborhood?
    • 4. Make your communitygreener.When crafting historic district guidelines,keep in mind conservation measures(awnings, windows, insulation) andenergy generation (wind and solar). Don’tfocus on current technologies -- they willchange -- but rather on broadsustainability principles and on creatingpositive outcomes for both propertyowners and the environment. Photo courtesy Living Off Grid, Flickr
    • 5. Keep an eye on localgovernment.Government land and buildings can often fallwithin the boundaries of a local historic district,but sometimes the final ordinances exemptthem from historic district regulations. If you’restarting from scratch, it’s worth thinking about --and codifying -- how your local government’sactions will be reviewed.Photo courtesy jdanvers, Flickr
    • 6. Go inside.While most historic districts focus on the exterior of buildings, somecommunities -- including Boston, Seattle, New York City, andAsheville, NC -- also include some regulation of interiors for significantpublic spaces, like hotel lobbies or banks. Does your community haveany “signature” spaces? If so, consider including them. Photo courtesy PhillipC, Flickr
    • Photo courtesy duncan, Flickr7. Plan ahead for resistance, part one.Even if you have done an excellent job getting buy-in, there willlikely be a handful of people who object to their property being ina historic district -- some of whom could be willing to demolish oralter their building to get out of it. A technique to combat this is toput a moratorium on permits in areas where historic designationhas been initiated, but not yet approved.
    • 8. Plan ahead forresistance, part two.On occasion, property owners will show theirdispleasure with a historic district by allowingtheir building to fall into disrepair to the pointwhere it becomes a safety hazard and needs tobe demolished. This is referred to as “demolitionby neglect” and can be managed in your historicdistrict guidelines with a minimum maintenancerequirement. A good example is the city of SanFrancisco, which has explicit language aroundthis requirement.Photo courtesy rocketjim54, Flickr
    • Photo courtesy Universal Pops, Flickr9. Take an alternative approach.Community-generated “conservation districts” -- areas whichhave less-stringent regulations than a traditional historicdistrict and are accompanied with tax incentives and otherinducements -- are growing in popularity and may be a betterfit for your historic areas.
    • 10. Don’t overburdenyour historic districtcommissioners.Creating a district involves a great deal ofeffort and requires broad collaborationwithin the community. But the skills thatcreating a district requires are notnecessarily the same as maintaining thedistrict, getting funding, etc. Be sure tocontinue working with the localgovernment, nonprofits, and otherorganizations once the district isestablished. Photo courtesy wallyg, Flickr
    • Ten on Tuesday features ten preservationtips each week. For more tips, visitblog.PreservationNation.org.