City needs plan to help preserve historic homes
Aug. 1, 2013 at 3:01 a.m.
Editor, the Advocate:
While I applaud the efforts to save and repurpose the historic Zahn house, an even more urgent discussion should be taking place. Is the city of Victoria sincere about the preservation of our historic treasures? Even if the city is successful in their efforts to save this one pre-Civil War home, they can't save them all. The better way would be for the city to provide incentives for the owners of these historic properties to preserve them. There are many things the city can do that would cost the city very little but save the owners a bundle.
To start, the city could streamline the planning, platting and permitting process for historic properties. It could use the tools available to it to exempt historically significant structures from some of the very modern and restrictive building and fire codes, subdivision and driveway ordinances.
The city should also consider providing tax incentives/abatement. The City Council should instruct the department heads of community development, building codes and engineering to use some good judgement when applying the codes and ordinances to historic properties.
For example, it makes little sense to require an existing 14-foot-wide driveway at a 1913 residence in the original townsite to be widened to 22 feet just to comply with a 2010 ordinance. Let's get serious about preserving our historic heritage. The attitude comes from the top down. The City Council should impress upon all the city's employees the importance of maintaining and preserving our historic treasures.
Chip Dence, Victoria