box [graphic] September 1997 Newsletter

Commission formed to study the two proposed Preservation Ordinances

On August 4, 1997 a joint committee of the city council recommended the creation of a preservation ordinance commission to review the two proposed documents. The joint committee is chaired by Councilman James McClinton with Councilmen Reardon, Pete Tavares and Duane Pomeroy comprising its membership. The following evening the city council voted affirmatively on this motion and the appointment of twenty-four members of the community to this commission commenced. The commission will have sixty days to make recommendations on language and procedure for the ordinance. The commission's recommendations must represent a consensus of the group and will be made to the city council. The city council will then take action on the passage of the ordinance.

There are two ordinances on the table, one was developed by the Historic Preservation Committee of the planning commission and the second was developed by Councilman Jim Reardon as a response to the planning commission version. The planning commission ordinance was reviewed by the city council in a number of work sessions beginning in December 1996 and had its first reading before the city council on July 22, 1997. At that time Councilman Reardon's ordinance was introduced and the matter of the two historic preservation ordinances was referred to the Economic and Community Development Joint Committee of the city council.

In many respects the ordinance offered by Councilman Reardon is similar to the ordinance developed through the planning commission, both in language and intent. The significant provisions included in the planning commission ordinance that are not provided for in Councilman Reardon's ordinance are that the planning commission version provides for the listing of individual properties as well as historic districts, establishes a design review committee of the landmarks commission to review major projects before sending recommendations to the full landmarks commission, and allows both the landmarks commission and the governing bodies to grant extensions of project review time. Councilman Reardon's ordinance reduces most of the time frames for project review by one-half and strengthens the mandate of the landmarks commission.

In addition to the differences between the two ordinances outlined above the commission will also discuss whether interiors of buildings should be excluded from review, how old buildings should be to receive landmark designation, what should the radius of the project review area be, and additional incentives for landmark designation.

The commission members include Dick Pratt, Bob Fincham, Cheryl Logan, Tish Rogers, Debra Stufflebean, Martha Hagedorn-Krass, Cheryl Patterson, Thomas Little, Mike Stringer, Christy Caldwell, Mike Faler, Jack Blossom, Mike Morris, Mark Robertson, Maura Madden, Judith Miller, Cheryl Herman, Debbie Beam, Bill Nichols, Gary Brown, Ramon Powers, and Rowena Horr. Several more members will be appointed. This group includes representatives from real estate, community planning, downtown businesses, historical societies, neighborhood associations, home builders association, chamber of commerce, home owners associations, architecture, banking and preservation.

It is expected that the first meeting of the commission will be in early September. This time-frame would have the commission's recommendations presented to the city council by November.

Between now and then we urge our membership to show their support for the preservation ordinance by talking to and writing the mayor, city councilmembers and the preservation commission members. This process is a public participation process that works most effectively if the members of the voting public make their voices heard.--Martha Hagedorn-Krass


Q & A on Proposed Preservation Ordinance

Note: The following answers are based on the ordinance proposed by the Planning Commission.

Q. Are privately owned building facades to be placed in the public's domain as a result of ordinance processes?
A. The process of designating buildings for the local landmark register would involve owner support for the nomination. Additionally, the ownership status of the landmarked property would remain the same after designation.

Q. Are projects such as roofing replacement, painting, exterior sidings, landscaping, etc. to be scrutinized under ordinance provisions?
A. Review of projects under the ordinance is triggered by permit requiring proposals, such as building, demolition or zoning. It is unlikely that painting or landscaping projects would require a permit as singular projects. Projects involving roof replacement or new siding might require a permit, depending the nature of the project proposal.
   In locally designated historic districts there are design guidelines that are adopted by the owners of the properties included in the district that more specificially identify what types of projects the neighborhood would like reviewed, and this review may include paint colors and landscaping. In this case however, the review would occur at the behest of the property owners within the designated district.

Q. Are interiors of buildings affected?
A. If a landmark designation includes a building interior as part of the significant, character defining features that are being recognized in the nomination then the interior of that building would be included in project reviews.

Q. Will all buildings of the specified age be required to conform to ordinance provisions?
A. Review under the ordinance would include those buildings that are at least fifty years old or older. Staff has discretionary authority in all preliminary level reviews to determine which projects out of the larger group acutally merit the time and consideration of the landmarks commission.

Q. Who decides whether or not a property gets landmarked by ordinance provisions? Do I take the initiative, and then get permission, or what?
A. Owner support is required for landmark status but anyone can initiate a nomination.

Q. How long does the landmark status last? Is it forever, and can I get it changed?
A. Landmark status runs with the property in perpetuity or until it no longer exists. In the event that the property is modified to the exent that it no longer retains the character defining features that the landmark designation recognized, it would likely be delisted through an action of the landmark commission.

Q. What if I want to sell my property after it has been landmarked? Can I get it de-listed, or the requirements changed?
A. See answer to previous question.Æ


Special Thanks...

Historic Topeka, Inc. wishes to thank Cindy and Bill Naeger for hosting a very successful open house at their home, the historic Evans House, as a benefit for HTI. Also, thanks to Anita Wolgast and Ward-Meade Park for hosting the Preservation Awards ceremony and providing tours of the home and drug-store.


HTI Executive Secretary Search

Historic Topeka, Inc. bid farewell to Executive Secretary Robin Geil who resigned last month to become a full-time staff member of a local church office.


Ross Roster

Historic Topeka, Inc. gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the following to the restoration of the Ross Row Houses:

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