Houses in city may join list of historic places

Published 9:36 am Wednesday, March 18, 2009

By Staff
Washington seeks grant to pay for application nomination
Contributing Editor
Washington is seeking a grant that could eventually lead to a second historic district in the city.
The grant would help the city prepare an application to nominate some residential structures to be included on the National Register of Historic Places.
Those structures are located along a section of North Market Street north of Sixth Street. The State Historic Preservation Office is working with the city to prepare the application, said Scott Power, SHPO’s regional supervisor based in Greenville. The cost to prepare the nomination application is estimated at $7,500, with the city’s share coming to about $3,000.
The register is a list of buildings, structures, objects, sites and districts worthy of preservation because of their significance to American history, architecture, culture and archeology, according to SHPO literature.
In 2007, Washington received a Historic Preservation Fund grant to conduct an inventory of historic structures throughout the city. The nomination application is a result of that study, according to a memorandum from Bobby Roberson, the city’s planning and development director, to the mayor and City Council. The study was partly funded by SHPO.
If the area under consideration is included in the National Register of Historic Places, it doesn’t mean the area’s structures will be subject to guidelines governing development and/or rehabilitation of those structures. Inclusion on the register is not the same as inclusion in a historic district, according to City Planner John Rodman.
Asked if he believes the target area will be included on the register, Rodman replied, “I think so, if the property owners want it.”
Property owners in the nominated area likely would be able to voice their opinions on inclusion on the register at a public hearing, he said.
A single property owner may opt out of inclusion on the register. But if the majority of property owners in the target area don’t want to be included on the register, “it won’t happen,” Rodman said. Property owners in the target area have not been notified by the city that it is submitting a nomination application, he said.
Property owners whose properties are included on the register are eligible for tax credits and grants for those properties.
Private-property owners listed on the register are not obligated or restricted on using private resources to maintain or alter their property.
They are obligated to follow federal preservation guidelines only if federal funding or licensing is used in work on the property. They must also follow the guidelines if they seek and receive a special benefit such as a tax credit or grant resulting from inclusion on the register.
However, inclusion of structures in the target area on the register could be a precursor to establishing a second historic district in the city. Property owners in historic districts usually face some restrictions on uses of their properties, Rodman said.
For another historic district to be created in the city, such action would have to take place at the local level, starting with the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, Rodman said.