New ordinance allows Spokane neighbors to have input on historic building plans

New ordinance allows Spokane neighbors to have input on historic building plans (2-12-18)

SPOKANE, Wash. – It is a complaint some Spokane residents have had for years, historic buildings in their neighborhood knocked down without any input from them. 

On Monday night, city council voted to change that.  The city expects more than 300 homeowners to take part in the Historic Preservation and Demolition Ordinance. Many of them in Browne's with a simple goal. When it comes to dealing with historic buildings in Spokane, neighbors will have more of a say as to what happens.

“It's generation after generation.  People have seen it.  Their family has seen it, and they wanna pass it down to the next family to see it," Ryan Tafoya, who lives in Browne’s Addition, said. 

Tafoya’s sight changed quite a bit a year ago. He was surprised to see a historic house demolished, in favor of a new apartment complex. He and other neighbors had no say in the apartment's development or design.

"It's history. It's been here forever and people should keep that thing going," he said. 

Many others agreed and it got the city's attention. Now, a new ordinance will give neighbors like Tafoya more say into what happens. It all has to do with setting up historic neighborhood districts, where people will have the chance to group together and be more informed.

“It really is something that comes from the neighborhood themselves.  It's something they want to happen," Historic Preservation Officer Megan Duvall said. 

Here's how it will work: say there is an effort to demolish a historic structure in Tafoya’s neighborhood again. He and his other neighborhood district members would be told about it right away. Should demolition happen, he and others would have the right to see plans and designs for the new building. He would then be able to weigh in if the building's design is compatible with his neighborhood.

"It's protection of the whole neighborhood.  It is not about one resource, it's about the whole district," Duvall said. 

Any final decisions will still be made by Historic Landmarks Commission.

Not everyone can simply come together and decide to form a historic district. To qualify, homes and structures must be at least 50-years-old and at least half the people within that area must agree to participate.

© 2018 KREM-TV


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