The Houston City Council recently passed a new Historic Preservation Ordinance after conducting numerous public meetings and gathering input from a variety of stakeholder groups, including HAR. We are pleased that we were able to work with our Council Members to incorporate each of the five recommendations that the HAR Board of Directors submitted to the Council. All of the Council Members worked so hard to arrive at a fair and balanced ordinance.
I especially want to thank Council Member Sue Lovell, who chairs the Development and Regulatory Affairs Committee where the Historic Preservation Ordinance was referred. She and Council Member Brenda Stardig met with leaders from HAR on several occasions, and it is only with the open lines of communication between HAR and City Council that we were able to pass this ordinance that included all of the HAR recommended changes. Council Members Brenda Stardig, Oliver Pennington, Anne Clutterbuck, Wanda Adams, Al Hoang, Ed Gonzalez, and Jolanda Jones offered amendments that were favorable to HAR’s recommendations, and we are most grateful for their support.
It should also be noted that one new feature of the ordinance is the ability of all existing districts other than the Old Sixth Ward Protected Historic District to request reconsideration of its historic designation or to alter the boundaries of the district. The pending application of the Houston Heights South Historic District is also subject to reconsideration through the same process available to all existing historic districts.
Beginning on Monday, October 18, 2010, an existing district may apply for reconsideration of its historic designation for the next 30 days. The application must be signed by at least 10 percent of the owners of the tracts within the district. Upon receipt and verification of the required number of requesting property owners, the City of Houston Planning Department will send a notice to all property owners within the district informing them of the time and location of a public meeting for discussion of the reconsideration of the historic district. Included in the notice of the public meeting will be a postcard that the property owner should mail back to the City to indicate whether they still wish to be part of the historic district. Property owners will have 15 days from the date of the public meeting to return the postcard to the City.
Upon receipt and review of the responses from the property owners, the following make take place:
- No change in the designation as a historic district,
- Repeal of the resolution creating the historic district, if at least 51 percent of property owners indicate they no longer want the designation, or
- Amend the resolution designating the historic district to reduce its boundaries
HAR members who assist owners of properties within an existing historic district, as well as those working with prospective buyers of homes within a historic district, should be aware of the possibility of a change in the historic district designation and should advise your clients to this effect.
HAR has been proud to work with the City of Houston to provide consumers information about the historic districts and the ability to search for homes specifically within the current historic districts on HAR.com. We look forward to building on this successful collaboration and partnership with the City as more issues that are important to our members and property owners will be addressed in the coming months.
Know that the HAR governmental affairs department’s volunteer leadership and staff are constantly at work making sure the REALTOR® perspective is always represented.