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Historic preservation group proposes changing duties to better define objectives, activities

The Boulder City Historic Preservation Committee unanimously approved a first draft for a proposed change to its purpose statement at its July 27 meeting.

The committee plans to hold one more meeting this month before taking its proposed changes to the City Council for approval in September.

Committee member Kiernan McManus said the rebranded purpose statement was needed to give the public a better understanding of the committee’s duty. He said he didn’t feel the current statement was sufficient to cover all duties of the Historic Preservation Committee.

The current purpose statement found in city code 11-27-1 states, “The purpose of this chapter is to provide regulations for those areas, districts, sites, and buildings which have been designated as having significant character, interest, or value as part of the development, heritage, or cultural characteristics of Boulder City, the state of Nevada, or the nation.”

The proposed changes are based on Connecticut’s Model Code, which, committee member Alan Stromberg said, are better defined.

“I really like the purpose language in this code,” Stromberg said, referring to Connecticut. “I think the language will really explain to people why preservation is important.”

The new purpose statement would specifically help define the committee’s responsibilities.

For example, a clause gives the committee the responsibility of protecting the “historic and architectural character of properties and districts that are listed on the National Registry and State Registry.”

Stromberg said language protecting historic buildings is important.

“It is way too easy to tear down a historic building in this city,” Stromberg said.

The first draft of the purpose statement does not copy the Connecticut code word for word. One subsection states an aspect of the committee’s new responsibilities would be, “Ensuring and fostering preservation, restoration and rehabilitation that respects the historic, cultural, and architectural significance of distinctive areas, sites, structures and objects.”

Boulder City Planner Susan Danielewicz said the council could have an issue with the word “ensuring.”

“The phrase ‘ensuring’ implies a mandate that building permits would be denied if the proposed work did not meet this standard. If the city is not ready for such a mandate, alternate language would be encouraging and fostering preservation …,” Danielewicz wrote in a staff report to the committee.

Danielewicz also said revising the purpose statement in the city’s ordinance could leave the council open for more changes to the city’s historic preservation ordinance.

Committee Chairman Steve Daron said the committee needs to look at every aspect of the purpose statement.

“The purpose statement is important because it is going to guide us and the public on historic preservation,” Daron said. “I would like to look at all aspects of the city code to see what we would like to change and how we can make those changes.”

A copy of the proposed statement changes can be found at http://bit.ly/2aLL8Ty.

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