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City Council Streamlines Houston’s Historic Preservation Ordinance

The update makes it easier for property owners in historic districts to make changes.

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The Jay L. Durham House at 921 Heights Blvd., Houston (Texas, USA) is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, United States Department of the Interior.
The Jay L. Durham House at 921 Heights Blvd., Houston (Texas, USA) is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, United States Department of the Interior.

The vote by the City Council concludes a yearlong review by a committee to improve the Historic Preservation Ordinance.

The update establishes clear design guidelines and lets the city’s planning director approve small changes to historic homes (think window replacements and small rear additions).

Until now, the historical commission had to review the vast majority of cases.

It also creates an appeals board.

“If for some reason, the applicant does not like the ruling of the historic commission, they can come to the historic preservation appeals board and appeal to that board,” said Council member Robert Gallegos, whose amendment changed who can be part of the board.

Gallegos also proposed changing the procedure for designating a neighborhood as historic. Under current guidelines, 67 percent of homeowners need to agree. Gallegos wants the number to be 60 percent.

That amendment failed, 3-14.

Council member Mike Laster said the threshold should remain high, because with historic district designation come rules and restrictions.

“If I bought property in neighborhood X and I’m thinking that these are my deed restrictions and then suddenly I have this new set of deed restrictions imposed upon me, there is a property rights issue and there is a concern on that,” Laster said.

Mayor Annise Parker pointed out that in the end it’s up to council to designate an area historic, regardless of what residents think.

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Florian Martin

Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is the News 88.7 business reporter and also covers criminal justice, guns and shootings.Florian's stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters, the Houston Press Club, National Association of...

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