The City of Houston is holding a public hearing on Wednesday February 22 at 9:30 a.m. at City Hall to allow for community input on the new proposed Conservation District. Residents can voice if they are in support or in opposition of the proposed district.
The city's Planning and Development Department began looking into Conservation Districts in late 2019, and now they're proposing the city add the district to its preservation ordinance.
The Conservation designation is another way for communities to preserve their neighborhood history.
Currently, the city can designate neighborhoods as historic or heritage districts, but for some communities it's a challenge meeting those requirements. Conservation Districts allow community members to decide what items they want regulated in their neighborhood when redevelopment occurs. The city's planning director, Margaret Wallace Brown told Houston Matters in a previous interview that, "Conservation Districts give communities a voice when it comes to their neighborhood."
According to the city, a conservation designation has benefits such as:
- Protect the character, look and feel of an area or neighborhood
- Support compatible development and new construction
- Promote livability and quality of life
- Includes structures of any age
A Conservation District offers community members a choice between 19 items they can regulate within their community like building height, minimum lot size, lot width, lot dept, driveways, and more. The designation provides neighborhoods a more simpler route to protecting their neighborhood character which would not be the case under a Historic or Heritage district designation.
During city council's meeting last week, Council Member Sallie Alcorn said many neighborhoods still had questions about the proposed district and wanted more community engagement, but Mayor Sylvester Turner said he has a time frame set to get the item completed.
“This is about protecting historic neighborhoods and primarily communities of color and I want to make sure it gets done while I'm Mayor," he said. "That's why we're on a very aggressive timeline."
The city's planning director did identify neighborhoods such as Independence Heights and Freedmen's Town as communities that would benefit under a Conservation District designation.