Home > Uncategorized > Council vote on preservation ordinance sets stage for debate

Council vote on preservation ordinance sets stage for debate

By BRADLEY OLSON
Copyright 2010 Houston Chronicle

With only one dissenting vote, the City Council passed a temporary ordinance that represents the strongest protection of historic property ever initiated in Houston, one that will set the stage for a broad, and likely heated, debate about land use and the character of the city.

The temporary update to the 15-year-old preservation ordinance has initiated a moratorium on any demolitions, renovations and relocations in the city’s 15 historic districts that do not have the approval of the Houston Archaeological and Historical Commission. Previously, property owners could proceed with their plans after 90 days even if the commission had rejected their proposed changes. Those who already have spent money on planned property changes will be exempted from the moratorium.

The city plans to begin negotiating with developers, property owners and preservationists in the coming months about permanent changes to the law, a process Mayor Annise Parker, an advocate for stricter preservation controls, said is likely to end by September.
City Councilman C.O. Bradford was the only dissenter Wednesday, saying the process leading up to the temporary changes had not been inclusive enough.

“There’s a tremendous amount of confusion across the city, misunderstanding and misinformation, concerning what is going on here,” he said.
City Councilwoman Sue Lovell, who is leading the city’s effort, promised to begin a “process of listening” that would include meetings with stakeholders, city departments and committees. She predicted they would be able to find a solution palatable to all parties.

“I’m all for property rights, too,” she said. “I’m a property owner, and I’m here to defend that right. I also want to be able to … defend the history of our city, and so, we’re all going to sit down and listen to each other.”

 

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