Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Incentives key to historic preservation

Creating historic district might not be possible

Express Staff Writer

With Ketchum's batch of historic buildings rapidly dwindling, the city is looking at incentives to save them.

The ongoing discussion about revamping the transfer of development rights system is central to this effort.

More coercive tactics, such as restricting or preventing demolition, is considered by the city too draconian.

"You're putting a burden on property owners if you restrict the use of their property," said Ketchum Planning Director Harold Moniz. "That's a pretty big issue, to treat (historic-home owners) differently."

Some cities have created a historic district to protect a cluster of older structures, but Ketchum's relatively small and diluted collection of such buildings likely renders it ineligible.

"We'd be hard pressed to come up with a historic district," Moniz said. "Our buildings are scattered throughout the (city) core."

Moniz said the city has spoken with the Idaho State Historical Society about forming a district.

"They agreed we didn't have the concentration or characterizations for it," he said. "That's not to say we couldn't try."

To create a historic district, a city has not only to have justification, but clear guiding criteria.

"The criteria you'd use has to be pretty specific," Moniz said. "There are conditions and strict rules on how (owners) can alter buildings, and it's tightly regulated."

"At this point, I don't think it's a viable approach," he said.

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