Historic District Examined
Speakers primarily questioned village Planning Director Andrea Correll and April Montgomery, a certified historic preservation planner whose company, Circa Inc., made a recommendation for the formation of a local Historic District governed entirely by a local Preservat-ion Commission.
The commission has already approved a boundary map, standards and requirements, along with Circa Inc.'s report and recommendations.
The report lists an inventory of 601 properties within the proposed new boundaries. The area encompasses 1,200 acres, much of it already in the Old Town historic overlay planning district that has existed for many years.
The council will review the commission's report, boundaries and standards at its work session Tuesday, starting at 5:30 p.m. The council will hold its own public hearings on the fourth Tuesday each month through September at 1 p.m. in the Village Assembly Hall.
The consulting company hired by the Village Council surveyed and inventoried individual buildings, mostly residences, to deterermine if they meet the requirements of being built between 1895 and 1970 -- which encompasses the period of time that the founding Tufts family owned and operated the village and private resort -- and have preserved architectural exteriors reflecting the original style in which they were built.
The commission met earlier Tuesday and voted to approve the proposed boundaries for the district that encompasses additional properties, deletes about 26 properties -- some in the former Old Town Overlay District -- and extends the local historic district designation farther outside the former Old Town area.
Properties evaluated and then excluded could mean they were old enough to meet the required time frame but had been significantly altered to hurt the original exterior.
The commission must approve the exterior appearance of new construction, renovations, demolitions and other changes to ensure that it is "congruous" with the neighborhood and in keeping with clear-cut standards and guidelines, said Commission Chairman John Skarla.
"We have a clear set of standards and guidelines," he said, "and also some discretion."
Skarla was pleased with the turnout for the first public hearing.
"This is a great thing for Pinehurst," he said later. "Everyone wants to preserve the historic features of Pinehurst."
The commission's mission is to protect the properties that contribute to the village's history by making sure surrounding changes or changes to the properties themselves will still protect the historic nature.
The outside consulting firm added more than 130 new properties to the original 570 in the Historic Overlay, a loose planning and zoning district overseen by the advisory planning and zoning board. The new district supersedes the old one and places all decisions about issuing "certificates of appropriateness" under the quasi-judicial Historic Preservation Commission, which is undergoing intensive training.
The council appointed the members of the commission several months ago. Members must have demonstrated skills and interest in historic restoration, preservation and related fields and be local residents.
Appeals from Commission decisions will have to be made to the quasi-judicial village Board of Adjustment. From there, appeals would be to Superior Court.
At the Planning and Zoning Board public hearing held Tuesday afternoon in the Assembly Hall, all but one of the eight board members voted to adopt the boundary, the Circa Inc. report, and the standards and regulations for renovation, new construction or other structural changes affecting accepted contributing historic structures in the district. Planning board member Jane Deaton cast the lone dissenting vote.
"This is about protecting the historic Pinehurst that everyone agreed that they wanted in the Comprehensive Plan," Correll said of the village's long-range plan.
Skarla said later, "the footprint (boundary) and the era (1895-1970) set the standard."
Structures built after 1970 can be in the district. Those are called "noncontributing." A home built in the correct time frame in the district but altered drastically, so as not to appear in keeping with the exterior architectural standards, can also be declared noncontributing.
"I look at historic structures," Montgomery said. "If your home was constructed in the last decade, we didn't look at it."
Correll said there is "no (direct) financial advantage" in buying a vacant lot in the district and building on it. The sewer system in the older part of the village is 100 years old, she added. Some lots are unbuildable.
One benefit would affirm to prospective buyers that a historic property is governed by a locally run commission, which would probably enhance property values.
"You'd come to the Historic Commission for a certificate of appropriateness if you are within the Historic District boundaries, even if your home isn't designated among the inventory of 601 properties," Montgomery said.
A building must be studied and certified by a historic preservationist to be considered by the commission for the inventory, she added.
A certificate of appropriateness is required from the commission for any work.
John Hoffmann, a longtime resident of the Old Town overlay district, questioned why all of Old Town was not included in the New District and why "little islands" are shown on the new map.
"It was very simple before, now it (appears) gerrymandered," he said.
Montgomery responded that the state's National Landmark District created an island, but newer golf courses or other properties built in the 1970s, undeveloped lots and some buildings from a different era, "don't relate to the history of Pinehurst."
She said she tried to "connect the dots" between individual buildings studied and added to the inventory for historic era authenticity and exterior historic characteristics remaining from the era to set the boundaries.
"We don't create doughnut holes," she said.
Sara Lindau can be reached at 693-2473 or by e-mail at slindau@thepilot.
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