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Morning Sun
  • MY VIEW: Beware new preservation bills

  • People who care about charming downtown districts need to be aware of the two bills proposed by the Kansas House Committee for local governments last week.

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  • People who care about charming downtown districts need to be aware of the two bills proposed by the Kansas House Committee for local governments last week.
    • HB 2118 would remove review of the environs* of a listed building completely and
    • HB 2089 would allow local governments to opt out of 106 Review.
    Historic preservation guidelines already have little impact on development projects unless 1. the owner of a listed building is provided tax incentives or grants to restore their structure, or  2. the city chooses to enforce an “impact analysis” in a 106 Review by the SHPO.
    HB 2118, if passed, would take away the limited protection now offered to some historic structures. The present laws requiring review of environs has a distance stipulation of 500 feet of a building listed on the State Historic Register in an incorporated area and 1,000 feet in an unincorporated area.  An Environs review safeguards heritage charm and historic integrity.
    The best safeguards happen at the local level. Cities who receive Certified Local Government designation have local historic preservation planning councils which maintain and craft their own preservation plan. Planning what we wish to preserve in our community would be much  better than scrambling to manage development decisions as an afterthought of a redevelopment or condemnation process.  Decisions need to be guided by professional valuation appraisers trained in historic preservation.
    HB 2089 proposes to allow local governments to opt out of 106 Review entirely.  Without the 106 Review at the State level or by a Certified Local Government, rural communities are especially vulnerable as we rarely have organized Historic Societies or Preservation Councils. When we do, they are often uninformed and only notified, if ever, as a final detail of a project.  
    Building appraisals ought not to be made without educated specialists working in cooperation with local governments and developers. The Environs law and 106 Review could help rural communities manage their historic assets instead of perpetuating a pattern of complacency and permanent loss of historic resources.
    Let’s work with developers to explore alternatives that will preserve the charm and heritage appeal of our existing structures. Our future generations count on today’s leaders to preserve and protect their inheritance. Historic preservation should be a joy, not an unpopular chore.  
    *Environs is a terms that refers to the area (usually 500 ft) surrounding a building listed on the State Historic Register. Work on any building within that Environs must be reviewed by either the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) or if the City is designated a Certified Local Government, by that City’s own Preservation Council.

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