Sunday, September 16, 2007
At this point in time, your home, your refuge, your dreams and your investment in Old Town, Fairview and Brooklyn are under a moratorium on home demolitions and alterations to the exterior of a 50-plus-year-old home. The historic groups in our city and county, which feel we are losing our community character and heritage, instigated this moratorium. They think now is the time for mandatory historic designation and compliance on historic residences, and the process has begun.
There are so many unanswered questions and concerns about this critical issue, in which we, the property owners, had no voice other than at two City Council meetings open to public comment after the fact. We are the people who this directly affects.
- What is community character? Is it our buildings or the people? Who should decide this, and should it be marketed?
- Do the residents of Old Town, Fairview and Brooklyn want mandatory historic preservation? How many of the 700-plus properties asked for this?
- Why isn't historic designation working on residential properties? What does the process involve? Are the regulations too rigid, costly or impractical in this modern age? Do you want a committee telling you what you can and can't do to your home?
- What are the benefits and detriments of historical designation to the homeowner? What are the incentives?
- Are our present zoning, building codes, height restrictions, setbacks working effectively?
- How will mandatory historic designation affect our property values and our neighborhoods? Your home may already be remodeled to your needs, but what about the needs of a future buyer, or the needs of a present homeowner wanting to bring their home up to a modern lifestyle?
- Should the individual property rights become secondary to community property rights and the community good? What is the community good? Are property owners a part of the community? Who decides this?
Voluntary historic preservation has been working with willing participants. We have 66 structures/sites on the Routt County Historic Register. We have beautifully remodeled, restored, creative, unique and well-kept homes within the city that aren't on any registers. We believe Steamboat's heritage is the Western free-thinking individuals who value their land and have the courage to stand up for what they believe. We are not Martha's Vineyard, Charleston, S.C., Aspen or Telluride. We are just Steamboat.
Historic preservation/designation should be voluntary, and this moratorium should be lifted so that an open discussion may begin. It may be a lengthy process. Please talk about this issue with your friends and neighbors and come to Tuesday's City Council meeting to show the council that you value your property, Steamboat and our future. Also keep this issue in mind during the upcoming City Council elections.
Evie and Larry Freet