Thursday, February 25, 2010
A Light of Hope for the Sheltering Arms House
Post and photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman
This blog has identified a property owned by the city at 2648 Emerson Ave N and has been advocating for its rehabilitation and against demolition. (click here, here, here, and here for the story) I just received word from a credible source that the Historic Preservation Commission has flagged the Sheltering Arms House as "potentially historic." The Historic Preservation Commission apparently has also recommended rehabilitating the building, although it's not clear in what capacity that recommendation was made (a member voicing an opinion vs. a formal decision by the commission, for instance).
The salvation of this property is not yet guaranteed, but what this news means is...
...that there will be a more formal process if a demolition permit is sought by the city. The HPC will review the permit in the same way they review all such permits. The Historic Preservation Ordinance lays out this criteria in a format available online. Go to title 23, chapter 599, article VII, or read the relevant section below:
"99.450. Identification of historic resources. The planning director shall identify properties that are believed to meet at least one of the criteria for designation contained in section 599.210, but that have not been designated. In determining whether a property is an historic resource, the planning director may refer to building permits and other property information regularly maintained by the director of inspections, property inventories prepared by or directed to be prepared by the planning director, observations of the property by the planning director or any other source of information reasonably believed to be relevant to such determination. (2001-Or-029, § 1, 3-2-01)
"599.460. Review of demolitions. The planning director shall review all building permit applications that meet the definition for demolition to determine whether the affected property is an historic resource. If the planning director determines that the property is not an historic resource, the building permit shall be approved. If the planning director determines that the property is an historic resource, the building permit shall not be issued without review and approval by the commission following a public hearing as provided in section 599.170. (2001-Or-029, § 1, 3-2-01; 2009-Or-023, § 13, 3-27-2009)
"599.470. Application for demolition of historic resource. An application for demolition of an historic resource shall be filed on a form approved by the planning director and shall be accompanied by all required supporting information, as specified in section 599.160. (2001-Or-029, § 1, 3-2-01)
"599.480. Commission decision. (a) In general. If the commission determines that the property is not an historic resource, the commission shall approve the demolition permit. If the commission determines that the property is an historic resource, the commission shall deny the demolition permit and direct the planning director to prepare or cause to be prepared a designation study of the property, as provided in section 599.230, or shall approve the demolition permit as provided in this section.
"(b) Destruction of historic resource. Before approving the demolition of a property determined to be an historic resource, the commission shall make findings that the demolition is necessary to correct an unsafe or dangerous condition on the property, or that there are no reasonable alternatives to the demolition. In determining whether reasonable alternatives exist, the commission shall consider, but not be limited to, the significance of the property, the integrity of the property and the economic value or usefulness of the existing structure, including its current use, costs of renovation and feasible alternative uses. The commission may delay a final decision for up to one hundred eighty (180) days to allow parties interested in preserving the historic resource a reasonable opportunity to act to protect it.
"(c) Mitigation plan. The commission may require a mitigation plan as a condition of any approval for demolition of an historic resource. Such plan may include the documentation of the property by measured drawings, photographic recording, historical research or other means appropriate to the significance of the property. Such plan also may include the salvage and preservation of specified building materials, architectural details, ornaments, fixtures and similar items for use in restoration elsewhere.
"(d) Demolition delay. The commission may stay the release of the building, wrecking or demolition permit for up to one hundred eighty (180) days as a condition of approval for a demolition of an historic resource if the resource has been found to contribute to a potential historic district to allow parties interested in preserving the historic resource a reasonable opportunity to act to protect it. The release of the permit may be allowed for emergency exception as required in section 599.50(b). (2001-Or-029, § 1, 3-2-01; 2009-Or-023, § 14, 3-27-2009)"
More seasoned preservationists, please feel free to put that into regular English for the rest of us. But what I take from that section is that if the property is deemed a historic resource, then a public hearing must be held before a demolition permit can be granted. Connie Nompelis was kind enough to post and expand upon the designation criteria and the nomination criteria on the Historic Preservation forum.
We're not out of the woods yet in terms of saving this house, but we're a big step closer.