The planning and development department is out with a revised version of proposed changes to the city’s historic preservation ordinance, meant to respond to criticisms. Among the changes: The new draft spells out a process by which existing and recently designated historic districts (except for the Old Sixth Ward) can jettison their historic designations entirely — if enough residents don’t like the strictures of the new ordinance, and if city council approves.
But there’s a time limit: Applications for kicking off those oppressive preservation shackles must be submitted within 15 days of the passage of the ordinance, and must include the signatures of enough property owners to account for 25 percent of the tracts in a district. Once a district gets past that hurdle, there’d be a neighborhood meeting and a poll of property owners by mail-in ballot. There’s no defined threshold that would trigger a repeal, though: After the votes are tallied, it would be up to the planning director to make a recommendation and city council to make a decision — if a district wants to opt out. And it appears to be an an all-or-nothing process: Districts would either fall under the “no means no” provisions of the new ordinance or lose their historic designation entirely — having the old 90-day waiting period, meant to deter unapproved renovations and new construction without prohibiting it, would no longer be an option.
Another change: Whatever properties that were in the original Old Sixth Ward Historic District but weren’t included in the Old Sixth Ward Protected Historic District would be set free from any preservation restrictions at all: Remuddle in peace, y’all.
What else? In an attempt to take away a favorite line from opponents, the revised draft explicitly states that the ordinance does not regulate house paint colors, landscaping, air-conditioning units, porch lights, or fans. Doesn’t appear to mention soffit mosquito-misting systems, though. Zzzzzap! We’ll have more on the differences in the new version as they become clear.
- Historic Preservation Ordinance Amendments [Planning and Development]
- Previously on Swamplot: A Vague Opt-Out Provision for Houston’s 16 Historic Districts, Proposed Historic District Changes: No Will Mean No, 67 Percent Will Mean Yes, Houston’s Historic Hold, Big Changes for Houston’s Preservation Ordinance? Mayor Parker Wants a Temporary Ban on Those 90-Day Exemptions