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Statewide Protections for Historic Resources Could Change Dramatically

bull_run_bldgs_riverside_cropped2X3The Oregon Department of Land Conservation & Development (DLCD), which has jurisdiction over State statutes protecting natural and historic resources, has convened a committee to review and amend the rules pertaining to the protection of historic properties and the requirements of owner consent for the designation of properties as historic.

Restore Oregon Executive Director, Peggy Moretti, has been appointed to the committee which convened on August 31st.

Background:

Oregon’s statewide planning policy is laid out in a series of goals.  Goal 5, and its related administrative rules, specify how cities and counties are to plan for and conserve resources such as historic buildings.  These administrative rules for historic places are being revised at the request of the Governor’s office due to complaints of inconsistency in their interpretation and application across the state.  Some communities offer virtually no protection to designated historic properties, while others such as Portland, review design changes and can deny demolition permits for National Register-listed historic buildings.

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A separate state statute (ORS 197.772) often referred to as “owner consent” allows owners to opt out of historic designation. A recent ruling by the Oregon Supreme Court (for which Restore Oregon wrote an amicus brief) clarified that the opt out opportunity is only at the time of designation, and that future owners of historic properties chose to buy them with that designation and so cannot remove it.

The proposed rule changes could have major implications – potentially increasing protections in some areas, but weakening it in others.  Particular heartburn is being felt in Portland where greater protections have been enacted for National Register-listed properties, including demolition denial.  At a time when many neighborhoods are looking to protect their neighborhood from the demolition epidemic by becoming a National Register-listed historic district, the proposed changes would eliminate the only protection that Portlanders have by removing local protections associated with National Register designation.

The  draft of proposed rule changes leaves many questions unanswered and many historic properties at risk. Restore Oregon will work aggressively to ensure that the new rules provide meaningful protection and appropriate balance individual rights with the public benefit of preserving Oregon’s historic places.

For more detailed information please refer to this pdf: Proposed Amendments to the Goal 5 Rule for Historic Resources

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