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Changes coming to the preservation ordinance?

Swamplot has a scoop.

Some major changes to the implementation of Houston’s long-ridiculed historic preservation ordinance may be coming very soon, if a proposal supported by Mayor Annise Parker passes a city council vote that could occur as early as next Wednesday, Swamplot has learned. Under the current ordinance (for all designated historic districts except for the Old Sixth Ward, now a designated “protected” historic district), owners of historic-district properties whose plans for demolition, new construction, or remodeling have been rejected by the city’s Archaeological and Historical Commission have been able to proceed with their plans anyway — simply by waiting 90 days.

But in an email to Swamplot, a spokesperson indicates the Mayor wants the commission to “temporarily discontinue” the issuing of such 90-day waivers for the remainder of this calendar year — or until amendments to the preservation ordinance are hashed out and approved by city council (whichever comes first). Under some revisions to the ordinance likely to be considered in that 7-month period, 90-day waivers could be eliminated entirely.

Changing the historic preservation ordinance so that it actually preserves historic buildings instead of merely putting off their demolition for a few weeks would be a huge change in how Houston does things. I can’t wait to see what they come up with, and I expect the pushback to be fierce. Click over and read the whole thing.

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  1. […] Last week, we heard that Houston City Council was considering a change to the historic preservation ordinance that would actually prevent structures from being torn down or moved if the Houston Archeological and Historic Commission denied the request to do so. Right now, all that the owner of such a property needs to do is wait 90 days, then go ahead and do whatever he or she had originally planned. Assuming it doesn’t get tagged, Council will vote today on a proposal that would suspend 90 day waivers until the modified ordinance is ready for debate. “We’re voting [today] to protect our historic structures in our historic districts until the committee of stakeholders agrees on revisions to the current historic preservation ordinance,” said Councilwoman Sue Lovell, who chairs the council committee that deals with preservation matters. […]

  2. […] who had previously voiced some objections to the law, was absent. I had thought this would be more contentious, but maybe that will come when the permanent ordinance gets debated. I’m glad to see this […]