The mayor’s office is out with a “public comment draft” of proposed changes to Houston’s Historic Preservation Ordinance. The biggest (and most expected) change: There’ll be no more 90-day “compliance waivers” issued for historic-district properties. Under the previous ordinance, owners of contributing properties in historic districts whose plans for new construction, demolition, or renovation had been rejected by the city’s historic commission could proceed with those plans anyway after simply waiting 90 days. Under these changes, the Old Sixth Ward — labeled a “protected” historic district because the waivers weren’t allowed there — will now be the model for all others.
But the changes also include a completely revised process for neighborhoods to vote on historic-district status. Previously, for a neighborhood to file an historic-preservation application, it needed to submit a petition signed by owners representing more than 51 percent of its tracts. But the new system puts power into the hands of owners who are willing to express an opinion and takes it away from those who can’t be bothered or found. It allows an application to be filed if 67 percent of the property owners in a district who send in special cards distributed for that purpose indicate on those cards that they’re in favor of the designation.
There’s more. Here’s the city’s official summary of the changes:
Five public meetings are scheduled to discuss the changes, beginning July 27th and ending August 10th.
- Mayor parker announces proposed historic preservation ordinance amendments [Mayor’s Office]
- Historic Preservation Ordinance: Public Comment Draft (PDF),
Historic Preservation Ordinance: Summary of Amendments (PDF), and
Historic Preservation Ordinance: Public Notification (PDF) [P&D]
- Previously on Swamplot: Big Changes for Houston’s Preservation Ordinance? Mayor Parker Wants a Temporary Ban on Those 90-Day Exemptions