Iconic historic communities, do they deserve historic protection?
Tonight a big decision is being made on a local historic district, which presents a good moment to reflect on our opinion regarding the issue.
Design review is an overlay, designed to protect property values – a property rights issue! In recent years opponents to design review have twisted the same language with success, it is about property rights, “I have the right to do whatever I want” …regardless of its impact on neighbors and their property values.
Tonight Mackinac Island will decide whether or not to enact a historic district with design review. That’s right; Mackinac Island the quaint historic isle in northern Michigan which has 1 million visitors annually via its heritage tourism economy has no “protection.”
Free of automobiles since 1898 to protect the charm, but not so for their built environment. Between 1970 and 2000 over 100 buildings were torn down. Cheap contemporary intrusions, vinyl siding and the like is allowed and proliferates. In 2008, the National Park Service put the island’s National Landmark status on a watch list, because there is no protection for historic structures and integrity is eroding. Last year the 125 year-old McNally Cottage on Main Street was torn down and a new motel was built (a design that many of us might question as being compatible). Now another large modern hotel is proposed to be built at the dock, large enough to block the view as you come onto the island. If it matters, by an investor who doesn’t live on the island.
If your economy was based on heritage tourism would you really leave it up to chance? Are they so confident that visitors will continue to come regardless of the historic integrity?
Truly the make-up of a community is not only about how much money can be made. Remember in “It’s a Wonderful Life” when Bedford Falls changed to Pottersville? Integrity is an issue for people, businesses and communities, particularly when being marketed as a historic community.
Ohio has 71 National Historic Landmark sites, see HERE, three of those are communities, Glendale, Mount Pleasant, and Mariemont, each have historic district review to protect the assets that define their community.
New developments use design review as do historic developments, to maintain property values, and in tourist destinations such as Charleston SC to protect the economy of the region as a whole.
What do you think ?
For the National Trust’s 10 Steps to Establish a Local Historic District link HERE