Monday, August 31, 2009

New Historic Preservation Ordinance Almost Complete

Milton's Community Development department and the Historic Preservation Committee are nearing the finish line in creating a Historic Preservation ordinance for the city.

The Mayor and City Council, along with the Planning Commission, are reviewing a draft ordinance. A proposed Historic Preservation Commission is expected to go before the Mayor and City Council in September.

A local historic preservation ordinance establishes the criteria and process for how a property or district may be designated as historic. The language and structure of the ordinance is established by the Georgia Historic Preservation Act and regulated by the Georgia Historic Preservation Division.

Once a preservation ordinance is adopted, a local historic preservation commission may be created. The commission requires a certificate of appropriateness prior to any material change in appearance of a structure designated as a landmark or within a historic district.

According to the Georgia Alliance of Preservation Commissions, a preservation ordinance does not:

Review color selections or require permission to paint a house
Restrict the sale of the property
Require improvements to the property
Require approval of interior changes
Prevent new construction within historic areas
Restrict the use of a property

A preservation ordinance does:

Provide municipal policy for protection of historic properties
Establish an objective and democratic process for designating historical properties
Protect the integrity of designated properties with design review requirements
Protect and enhance property values
Help to maintain the overall character of an area

The move for historic preservation ordinances has its roots in a survey conducted by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources in 1995 and 1996. Since then, many sites have been demolished or have deteriorated in condition. Others have been so dramatically altered from their original state they may not be eligible to be considered historic.

In 2007 a passionate group of residents presented a draft ordinance for the creation of a Historic Preservation Commission to Milton's Community Development department.

The Historic Preservation Committee was established by the Mayor and City Council on Dec. 1, 2008. This committee has worked with city staff to develop an ordinance that will preserve Milton's historic resources and spur economic development.

From March through July the Historic Preservation Committee developed and received approval for a draft ordinance. The draft was subsequently presented to the Mayor, City Council and the Planning Commission for consideration.

In September, the Community Development department hopes to present the Historic Preservation Commission to the Mayor and City Council. Once the commission is appointed, they will develop the Historic District Design Guidelines, conduct public hearings for comments on the design guidelines and, after City Council approves the design guidelines, start consideration of nominations and designations.

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