WHY YALECREST AS A LOCAL HISTORIC DISTRICT?
This historic neighborhood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and there is a desire to preserve its integrity as historic. The Yalecrest Neighborhood Council has been working on preservation and compatibility issues for a decade, and it’s a priority of the Salt Lake City Planning Division as well.
WHAT IS AN HISTORIC DISTRICT?
A historic district is a group of buildings, properties or sites that have been designated by the City as historically and/or architecturally significant. Buildings, structures, objects and sites within an historic district are normally divided into two categories: contributing or noncontributing.
• Contributing structures in Yalecrest are at least 50 years old, must retain their original architectural integrity, and/or have an association to an important person or piece of Salt Lake City history.
• Non-contributing structures either do not meet these criteria, or have had their historical features altered.
Yalecrest retains a remarkably high degree of historic integrity with 91 percent of homes contributing to the historic character of the neighborhood. For information about Salt Lake City’s historic districts, visit: www.slcgov.com/ced/hlc/content/Historic_Districts.asp
HOW IS A LOCAL HISTORIC DISTRICT ESTABLISHED?
Designation of a district is accomplished by the City Council adopting an ordinance to amend the zoning map for the affected property. This amendment applies the (H) Historic Preservation Overlay District to the district. The zoning map amendment process is intended to allow changes in public policy through a public process involving comments from community councils, residents, business and property owners, and historic preservation organizations.
\WHAT KIND OF PROTECTION DOES A LOCAL HISTORIC DISTRICT PROVIDE?
Local historic districts usually enjoy the greatest level of protection under law from any issues that may compromise historic integrity. This is because many land-use decisions are made at the local level. The (H) Preservation Overlay District regulates alterations to and demolitions of properties, as well as new construction. Building design criteria are derived from the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for the Rehabilitation of Historic Buildings.
WHAT IS INCLUDED WITH A LOCAL HISTORIC DISTRICT?
• Demolition denial, with an appeal process for economic hardship, safety or life-threatening
• Design review by City planning staff and/or the Historic Landmark Commission (HLC)
• Public notification process
• Design guidelines that provide local standards and may be appealed; along with national guidelines that must be adhered to in design review
The HLC’s decisions are binding, not advisory, and are enforced by the City’s planning staff, building services division (when a permit is pulled), and the enforcement division on the ground during construction
A LOCAL HISTORIC DISTRICT DOES NOT:
• Restrict the use of a property
• Prevent owners from making changes
• Require restoration or demolition
• Require additional permits for painting, minor repairs or interior work
• De-value a property
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF DESIGN GUIDELINES?
Salt Lake City local historic districts are subject to the Design Guidelines for Residential Historic Districts. The purpose of the guidelines is to make sure character-defining features of a building are not altered. Keeping original features of an historic home maintains the value of the home and the historic character of the district. The guidelines focus on key preservation principles:
• Respect the historic design character of the building
• Seek uses that are compatible with the historic character of the building
• Protect and maintain significant features and stylish elements
• Preserve any existing original site features or original building materials and features
• Repair deteriorated historic features and replace only those elements that cannot be repaired
WHY DOESN’T THE CITY HANDLE YALECREST PRESERVATION THROUGH ZONING?
Developing proper zoning ordinances takes several years and it’s critical that preservation measures are put in place in the next six months to address the threat of tear-downs. Cities like Denver have been trying for years to preserve historic neighborhoods by establishing conservation districts through zoning ordinances, and have yet to complete the lengthy process. In the meantime, homes are demolished.
WHAT ABOUT MY PROPERTY RIGHTS?
Private property rights are among the most important rights enjoyed by Americans. They give us financial security and they help protect our personal investments. Precious as they are, our property rights are not absolute—they come with responsibilities. Communities routinely make investments and create land use policies that affect property rights and changes in property values for the greater good. Regulating teardowns is no different because they affect the quality of life and the property rights and investments of the people who have to live with the results. For more information, visit: preservationnation.org
WILL I HAVE TO RENOVATE MY HOUSE?
No. Local historic district designation does not require homeowners to restore or fix up their property.
WHAT ABOUT WORK INSIDE MY HOME?
OK. Interior changes that do not affect the outside appearance are not reviewed.
CAN I PAINT MY HOUSE?
Yes, homeowners are free to paint their homes.
WHAT ABOUT REBUILDING OR REMODELING MY GARAGE?
Construction of garages and accessory structures will need to follow the same design review guidelines as houses, and will be considered in the context of the home. For more information visit: www.slcgov.com/CED/HLC/content/Garages.asp
CAN I REMODEL OR MAKE HOME IMPROVEMENTS?
Yes, local historic designation does not prevent owners from making changes to their property. It ensures that alterations, additions or demolitions are kept within the special character and scale of the area. Minor improvements can be quickly approved by the city’s preservation planners. Extensive or major changes are reviewed by the HLC.
CAN I BUILD AN ADDITION TO MY HOUSE?
Yes, property owners are encouraged to design additions in keeping with their home’s architectural style and using compatible building materials. There should be delineations between the old structure and new (these can be extremely subtle). Depending on the location of the addition, a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) could be handled through administrative review while a smaller portion of requests typically go to the HLC for review. For more information visit: slcgov.com/CED/HLC/content/Additions.asp
WHAT IS A CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS (COA)?
In a local historic district, a COA is needed before a building permit can be issued. It would be required for work that physically changes the exterior appearance of the property, such as:
• Enclosing a porch
• Demolishing all or part of a structure
• Replacing windows and doors
• Installing siding or re-roofing
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET A COA?
Administrative reviews are conducted by a City planner and, depending on complexity, take about a week or two. More complex projects such as major additions will need to be reviewed by the Historic Landmark Commission at its monthly meeting. For more information on the approval process, visit: slcgov.com/ced/hlc/content/HLC_Process.asp
WHO IS ON THE HISTORIC LANDMARK COMMISSION?
Nine to 15 members from various areas of Salt Lake (including the current historic districts), appointed by the Mayor, whose purpose is to preserve buildings and sites of historic and architectural significance. Their review authority extends to properties and street features within neighborhoods designated as historic districts. For more information on the HLC, visit: www.slcgov.com/ced/hlc/
WILL THE CITY BE ABLE TO ACCOMMODATE THE EXTRA REVIEW WORK?
Yes. Preservation is important to the City. Another preservation planner has recently been hired.
ISN’T A NEW HOME SAFER IF THERE IS AN EARTHQUAKE?
Every home has a level of uncertainty in a seismic event and seismic retrofitting is usually less expensive than demolishing a home. There are methods of reducing the risk of earthquake damage in historic homes, and if carefully planned and executed, these retrofitting techniques can upgrade the safety of the home while at the same time being sensitive to the historic fabric of the house. For information on seismic retrofitting, visit: history.utah.gov/historic_buildings/information_and_research/bracing_for_the_big_one.html and “Preservation Brief #41: The Seismic Retrofit of Historic Buildings” on the National Park Service page nps.gov/history/hps/TPS/briefs/brief41.htm
AREN’T NEW WINDOWS MORE ENERGY EFFICIENT?
Actually, the majority of energy loss is through a building’s roof—not windows—so attic insulation with an R-value of 38 or more is great for both old and new homes. Properly maintained old wood windows are generally better-fitting with fewer areas for draft, so while single-pane glass may be colder than double-paned, there is less heat loss in areas around the window. Paired with storm windows, historic wood windows can be more energy efficient than new windows. In most cases, the time it takes to realize the savings from replacement windows is often past the expected life of the window. For more information on preserving historic windows, read “Preservation Brief #9: Repair of Historic Wooden Windows” at nps.gov/history/hps/tps/briefs/brief09.htm
ARE TAX CREDITS AVAILABLE FOR HOME IMPROVEMENTS?
Yes. Tax credits are already available to Yalecrest residents for qualifying home improvement projects because Yalecrest is currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Federal guidelines must be followed—the same guidelines that would be in place for the local historic district. Yalecrest currently has the highest number of applicants in Utah trying to capture those tax credits—proof that residents are willing to accept the guidelines. For information on the Utah Historic Preservation Tax Credit, visit:history.utah.gov/historic_buildings/financial_assistance/state_tax_credit.html/
WHAT DOES PRESERVATION MEAN?
In city planning preservation involves a wise use of resources, and includes: sensitive stewardship, careful planning and harmonious new development. Historic districts protect an area’s important historic qualities while allowing for change and new construction that accommodates today’s lifestyles.
SALT LAKE CITY’S HISTORIC PRESERVATION PLAN
Salt Lake City has a nationally recognized preservation program and in 2009 completed its first historic preservation plan. The city-wide preservation vision includes supporting goals and implementation strategies to guide future historic preservation efforts in the city. The plan states “though the Yalecrest Historic District generally continues to exhibit a good level of physical integrity relative to many other neighborhoods in the City, numerous comments received during this planning process expressed concern about teardowns and inappropriate infill.”
Also in the plan’s historic district field analysis in 2007-08, Yalecrest was given a “High” priority level as its status is “Compromised,” and stronger protections to control demolitions and teardowns were recommended.
IS THIS SALT LAKE’S FIRST HISTORIC DISTRICT?
The Yalecrest neighborhood is not the first to be considered for designation. There are six historic districts in Salt Lake:
• Capitol Hill
• Central City
• Exchange Place
• South Temple
WHAT DOES ‘CONTRIBUTING’ MEAN?
A supporter pointed out the portion of the 2007 National Register nomination that talks about the survey of structures, determining those that are historically contributing and those that are not:
Buildings were classified as either contributing or non-contributing based on the results of a reconnaissance level survey of the Yalecrest area in 2005. Each building was evaluated for eligibility using the following guidelines set by the Utah State Historic Preservation Office.
A – Eligible/significant: built within the historic period and retains integrity; excellent example of a style or type; unaltered or only minor alterations or additions; individually eligible for National Register under criterion “C,” architectural significance; also, buildings of known historical significance.
B – Eligible: built within the historic period and retains integrity; good example of a style or type, but not as well-preserved or well-executed as “A” buildings, though overall integrity is retained; eligible for National Register as part of a potential historic district or primarily for historical, rather than architectural, reasons. The additions do not detract and may be reversible.
C – Ineligible: built during the historic period but has had major alterations or additions; no longer retains integrity. The resource may still have local historical significance.
D – Out-of-period: constructed outside the historic period.
Evaluations are based primarily on age and architectural integrity. A building may sometimes appear newer than its actual construction date because of intrusive alterations and additions. Surveyors attempt to determine the oldest portion of the building by looking for signs of greater age such as composition, massing, fenestration, foundation materials, chimneys and landscaping.
To view the map of contributing vs. non-contributing structures, click here.
To read the National Register of Historic Places nomination, click here.