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Detroit City Council Quickly Opposes Historic District Amendments

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On Monday, we reported that legislators in Michigan proposed an amendment changing how historic districts are created and maintained. Monday night, the Detroit City passed a resolution opposing the proposed legislation. You can read the full opposition here. We've picked out a few key issues of concern.

From their analysis:

"The requirement to obtain approval from two-thirds of property owners establishes a significant obstacle to initiating the historic designation process. Approximately 20% of structures in Detroit are unoccupied, and only about 60% are owner occupied; furthermore, over 100,000 vacant parcels exist throughout the city. Properties that are not owner-occupied may be in foreclosure or owned by banks, or owned by absentee landlords, speculators, or corporate or institutional owners. In prior experience, staff of the Historic Designation Advisory Board and City Planning Commission have found these classes of property owners to be very difficult to contact, and we feel that they would be unlikely to respond to a petition regarding historic designation."

"The existence of over 130 historic districts in the City of Detroit-designated in virtually all cases with strong community support and after a process soliciting substantial public input-stands as evidence of the broad appeal of historic designation in our communities...Amending existing legislation to include a "sunset" clause would add an element of uncertainty to the process that would negate many of its benefits."

And in the Conclusion...

"HB 5232 and SB 0272 would greatly restrict the ability of the City of Detroit to create new historic districts, and increase the resources needed to regulate historic districts."

We'll continue to follow this legislation.