Weldon’s Historic Preservation Promise

Weldon’s Historic Preservation Promise

Commissioner Peter Weldon is a man of his word. The following video captures one of Weldon’s most direct and articulate campaign promises – to reverse what he sees as the negative aspects of the current Historic Preservation Ordinance.

He delivered this speech at the November 23, 2015 Commission meeting, where the Historic Preservation Ordinance had just passed the first reading on a 3-2 vote.

To read entire story, click here.

At his first Commission meeting as a newly-elected Commissioner, Weldon presented a three-page document to fellow Commissioners outlining changes he would make to the existing historic preservation ordinance. To read the entire document, click here (document will download).

The Three-Step Weldon Plan

The first of three steps Weldon proposed is to “encourage voluntary preservation and protection of historic structures. . . .”

Voluntary designation of individual homes has seen an encouraging uptick recently. It is difficult to understand, however, how these individually designated homes would voluntarily protect themselves, especially if they change ownership. It would seem that some municipal authority would have to come into play to protect these homes, either from demolition or from out of scale renovation, which could conceivably affect the new owners’ property rights.

Two-Thirds Vote for Historic District

The second step would be to reverse the measure that requires a 50 percent plus one vote to designate an historic district. That threshold would revert to a two-thirds vote under the Weldon plan.

Several comments on this website have observed that the City has received no applications for historic districts since the revised ordinance passed in December 2015, begging the question of how long it takes to get 50 percent plus one of Winter Parkers to agree to anything – much less two-thirds.

Opt-Out Provision

Step three involves an “opt-out” provision, exempting any owner voting against inclusion in a proposed district from “Certificate of Review oversite [sic]” unless their property has already been designated at the time of the vote.

National Register Status

Weldon goes on to propose issues for study and recommendation by the Historic Preservation Board. Among those is the matter of incentives for voluntary designation. He suggests that one incentive for owners of historically significant properties is “to help owners apply for National Register status and then to provide a small level of City support for maintaining such properties when National Register status is granted.”

National Register designation does convey a certain cache to the structure and recognition to the owner. It does not, however, provide any protection. Only the City has the power to protect its historic assets.

If the City chooses to do so.

The Commissioners agreed to take up Weldon’s proposal at the coming April 11, 2016 meeting.

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    By: Anne Mooney

    Anne Mooney has assumed the editorship of the Winter Park Voice from founding editor Tom Childers.

    Mooney got her start in New York as a freelance line editor for book publishers, among them Simon & Schuster and the Clarkson Potter division of Crown Books. From New York, she and her husband and their year-old toddler moved to Washington, D.C., where the two ran a newswire service for Harper’s magazine. “We called it Network News,” said Mooney, “because it was a network of the Harper’s writers, whose work we edited into newspaper style and format and sold to papers in the top U.S. and Canadian markets. We were sort of like a tiny UPI.”

    The newswire ceased operation with the death of Mooney’s first husband, but Mooney continued to write and edit, doing freelance work for Williams Sonoma cookbooks and for local publications in D.C.

    In 2005, Mooney moved to Winter Park, where she worked as a personal chef and wrote a regular food column for a south Florida magazine. She took an active interest in Winter Park politics and was there when the Winter Park Voice was founded. She wrote occasional pieces for the Voice, including the Childers bio that this piece replaces.

    The Winter Park Voice is one of a large number of “hyper-local” publications that have sprung up across the U.S. in response to the decline of the major daily newspapers and the resulting deficit of local news coverage. The Voice’sbeat is Winter Park City Hall, and its purpose is to help the residents of our city better understand the political forces that shape our daily lives.

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5 replies
  1. HelpMeRhonda says:

    Weldon barely won and had we followed his same philosophy on voting for districts, he would not be serving in office. He is a dangerous person much like Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin who lacks the skills to serve as a Commissioner. Draconian dictator, yes, but not a Democratic representative of the people.

    Residents are in for a rough road. If he doesn’t agree on a law, boom, crash, gone!! No compromise in his game plan. In his tiny, wealthy world, he does not have the ability to think in broad terms so any law he perceives (often delusional) as threatening his personal wealth should be removed from Winter Park law books. Never mind that historic preservation does not apply to his property or his neighborhood

    There will be no room for other policies that serve the greater good of our community either. He dismantled the viable tree planting program. No developers are paying an impact fee on removing trees so our tree fund is bust. He doesn’t believe in wasting tax revenue on such frivolities like trees or police.

    It’s amazing that in a town with so many business giants, that we are controlled by men of little character and business background like Peter Weldon and the Mayor. We seem to always get stuck with the control-freak undesirables that bring us all down as they create extreme policies because of their lack of judgment and experience. Mark my word, his power grabbing, fast acting attempt to dismantle historic preservation is only the beginning!

    Reply
    • Pitt Warner says:

      I think you’re overreacting. Pete is thoughtful and more intelligent than most people, including me. Just wait and listen. Listening to his positions, whether you agree with him or not, makes you realize he has given the subject a great deal of thought. You don’t have to agree, but I think you’ll understand his position has a solid foundation.

      Reply
  2. Just OK says:

    Weldon has obviously thought this through. It’s probably a step in the right direction. The current ordinance is too authoritarian for Winter Park. If residents wanted their homes subject to government bureaucracy, Weldon wouldn’t have been elected and Cooper would have won by a wider margin. Weldon’s proposal strikes a balance between those who favor historic districts (they can still create one under Weldon’s plan), and those who prefer not to participate.

    Only those who believe residents should have no rights to decide what improvements are to be on their property would oppose Weldon’s proposal.

    Reply
  3. Pete Weldon, Winter Park City Commissioner says:

    Anne, thank-you for publicizing my commitment to pursue policies I promoted as a candidate for Winter Park City Commission.
    I offer some clarifications to your article – http://winterparkvoice.com/weldons-historic-preservation-promise/ below. In fairness to your readers, I ask that you disseminate this response in the same manner and to the same audience as used for your original article. Please let me know when this has been done.
    Mooney says, “Voluntary designation of individual homes has seen an encouraging uptick recently. It is difficult to understand, however, how these individually designated homes would voluntarily protect themselves, especially if they change ownership. It would seem that some municipal authority would have to come into play to protect these homes, either from demolition or from out of scale renovation, which could conceivably affect the new owners’ property rights.”
    Weldon responds: Under the current law, owners of record do not “designate” their homes as historic, they voluntarily apply to the Historic Preservation Board (HPB) requesting historic designation, and if approved by both HPB and the city commission, are added to the Winter Park Register of Historic Places (WPRHP). Once on this list the property is subject to Certificate of Review for all exterior changes and demolition permits, either of which may be denied by HPB with appeal to the city commission or to the courts. So, I believe Ms. Mooney is incorrect. The current law does “protect” homes voluntarily submitted and then accepted for designation as historic structures. I believe we should keep this aspect of the law as it is and has been.
    Mooney says, “Several comments on this website have observed that the City has received no applications for historic districts since the revised ordinance passed in December 2015, begging the question of how long it takes to get 50 percent plus one of Winter Parkers to agree to anything – much less two-thirds.”
    Weldon responds: I have no argument with the suggestion that the current 50% voting threshold may not result in any new historic districts in Winter Park. My argument is that Winter Park deserves a law that promotes real historic preservation, not one that diminishes historic significance for the purpose of forcing historic districts into being. The prior 67% voting threshold (in place since 2001) resulted in the formation of two historic districts. The second of which (East Virginia Heights) was formed as a result of gerrymandering. The evidence is clear that the only reason to lower the voting threshold is to force more owners into historic districts against their desires.
    Mooney says, “He suggests that one incentive for owners of historically significant properties is “to help owners apply for National Register status and then to provide a small level of City support for maintaining such properties when National Register status is granted. National Register designation does convey a certain cache to the structure and recognition to the owner. It does not, however, provide any protection. Only the City has the power to protect its historic assets.”
    Weldon responds: I clarify that granting any incentives from the city of monetary value to owners of properties realizing National Register Status should only be available to owners of properties already approved as designated historic structures on the Winter Park Register of Historic Places, and thus protected by the current law.
    Thank-you for this opportunity to clarify my position on each of these issues.

    Yours Truly, Peter J. Weldon

    Reply
  4. Donald Thompson says:

    The Winter Park Historic Preservation Ordinance, as passed in December 2015, should be maintained. The benefit might not be seen now; but in two decades, it will be appreciated. I have been down that road; I have walked in your shoes. Thirty years ago, effort was made to preserve blocks of old architectural buildings in small Ohio villages. Some little towns, like Chagrin Falls, succeeded and Chagrin Falls is, today, a lovely place to visit, have dinner, and enjoy festivals. Other towns, like Madison, rejected the idea. In Madison, modern structures were built beside historic homes and businesses. It became a hodge-podge. Property values dropped. Citizens, who appreciated consistent architectural quality, sold out. Theme businesses lost customers. Keep modern districts modern; keep historic districts historic. A word to the wise is sufficient.

    Reply

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