Major Changes to City's Historic Preservation Ordinances

Houston City Council has made major changes in the city's Historic Preservation Ordinance. Local preservationists say it gives the city's historic homes and buildings their first real protection from developers.

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The Preservation Ordinance has been amended to let property owners permanently protect their historic buildings from being moved or demolished by having their property designated as a "Protected Landmark". David Bush of the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance says this is a major move forward in saving the city's history.

Lynn Edmundson of the group Historic Houston says unlike preservation ordinances in other cities, the Houston ordinance protects the rights of property owners. Getting "protected status" is completely voluntary, and it can't be imposed on a property against the owner's will. Edmundson says she thinks the unanimous vote at City Council shows Houston's attitudes toward preservation are changing.

Edmundson says the best part is that the Protected Landmark status will remain in place even if the property is sold, and the property can't be demolished or moved without City Council approval. The ordinance granted immediate Protected Landmark status to some city owned buildings, including City Hall, the old downtown library building, Gregory School in Freedmen's Town, and the old fire station that's now the Houston Fire Museum.

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