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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