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HPC to recommend review period

Historical Preservation Commission sends demolition review suggestion to P&Z
Friday, August 2, 2019

San Marcos is one step closer to having a permanent ordinance on demolitions of historic structures.

At a special meeting on Wednesday evening, the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) solidified a proposed demolition review ordinance for historic-age resources. The revised ordinance recommendation will move forward to the San Marcos Planning and Zoning Commission for review at its meeting on Aug. 27. After P&Z approves the ordinance, which it may amend, it will then move to the San Marcos City Council for review and final adoption. 

On June 27, Council passed a temporary demolition review ordinance which will last for 120 days, or until Oct. 25, 2018. The temporary ordinance puts a 90-day delay on the issuance of demolition permits for buildings that are deemed historically significant or are 80 years or older. 

The stated purpose of HPC’s recommended ordinance is to create a process “to provide criteria to prevent or minimize unnecessary damage to the quality and character of the city’s historic resources by requiring the review of a request for demolition of a building or structure to enable a determination of its historic significance, and to provide the public, other interested preservation based organization, and staff an opportunity to work with the property owner on alternative solutions to demolition where possible.”

The HPC will recommend a 90-day demolition review period for properties within the My Historic SMTX survey boundaries that are medium or high preservation priority. If a property is outside of the survey boundaries, it will undergo a 90-day review period for demolition permits if it is 50 years of age, listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and/or a Recorded Texas Historical Landmark (RTHL). 

HPC Chair Griffin Spell discussed potentially raising the age to 75 years, citing concerns he received regarding the review being too broad. 

“I want to make sure that we have discussed every part of this so that if there's a question of 'wait, why are you recommending this thing here' then we can have an answer,” Spell said. 

However, the HPC ultimately decided to move forward with the 50-year requirement. 

“I think it's laid out in the national standard and its laid out in the state standard,” Commissioner Ryan Perkins said. “Fifty years is considered historic. I think if we just stay consistent, we have two national and state entities that back that up.”

If a property is subject to the demolition review period, it will then go through a process which will allow for a neighborhood meeting and public hearing to discuss the structure. At the public hearing, the HPC may then initiate a request for designation of the property as a historic landmark if it is determined to be eligible. If the commission seeks a landmark designation, the process would then be extended to include additional meetings with HPC, P&Z, and City Council. 

Within 20 days of the request for demolition, a list of 10 different parties will be notified of the request. This list includes the Historic Preservation Commission, the President of the Heritage Association and the Hays County Historical Commission. 

HPC’s recommendation will be presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission at its regular meeting on Aug. 27 at 6:00 p.m. at City Hall. 

San Marcos Record

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