Meeting offers chance for input on historic preservation in Washington

Published 4:03 pm Thursday, August 8, 2019

Residents and business owners in Washington’s historic district will soon have a chance to weigh in on the city’s historic preservation standards and practices. Those interested in sharing their perspectives on the topic are invited to attend a public meeting at 6 p.m. Aug. 22 at the Washington Civic Center.

“Washington has had a lot of growth,” said City of Washington Historic Preservation Planner Emily Rebert. “When you have a lot of growth in a town, sometimes you see a need to possibly adjust guidelines to accommodate that.”

Members of the Washington City Council and the city’s Historic Preservation Commission will be in attendance, lending an ear to public concerns. In September, the two groups will hold a joint meeting, during which the boards will establish a set of new goals for the HPC.

“The city council would like to receive feedback before coming up with these goals,” Rebert said.

The meeting between the two comes as a part of a city council goal to “review Historic Preservation Guidelines and revise as necessary to make consistent with Historic Preservation Commission actions.”

The last time the council reviewed HPC goals was in 2014, according to Rebert. Feedback gathered during the meeting will help guide what the city and HPC should be doing, could be doing and practices already in place that should be continued.

“It’s not just necessarily the design guidelines,” Rebert said. “Do we want to work on landmark designations? Do we want to do different awards? In 2014, they were getting feedback that (residents) want a residential façade grant.”

Properties that fall in Washington’s historic district are governed by the Historic Preservation Commission Design Guidelines. This 67-page document outlines a detailed set of regulations dictating what property owners may or may not do with their homes and businesses. The guidelines apply to both exterior changes and new construction in the district.

In order to do any exterior work on a building (aside from routine maintenance), property owners must submit a request for a Certificate of Appropriateness, to be granted by the city. While certificates for minor projects can be granted by city staff, major projects have to be approved by the Historic Preservation Commission. That group’s decision can then be appealed to the Board of Adjustment, which can in turn be appealed in court.

“We’re looking for people specifically that are in the B1H and also in the residential historic district, because the Historic Commission oversees both,” Rebert said. “I’m looking forward to hearing what people have to say and seeing what all of us can do collaborating together. We all have the same goal in mind of seeing Washington flourish.”

For more information on the city’s historic preservation efforts and guidelines, visit