Design guidelines for proposed Westside historic overlay
Public meetings won’t be until March

       An architect's draft of design guidelines for a planned Westside historic-overlay zone is now to be released this month, with public meetings in March.
       Although that's three months later than once scheduled, it is still within the previously established time frame for the State Historical Fund grant that has pledged to cover about half of the architect's $25,000 contract, according to Tim Scanlon, the city's historical planner. City Planning is paying the other half.
       The city has been working with the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) for several years in organizing and publicizing the effort. The guidelines will help property owners understand how to renovate older homes in keeping with their individual historic styles.
       OWN had previously publicized meetings Dec. 6, 10 and 16 for the public to review finished guidelines
       “It's disappointing, but delays do happen,” Scanlon said.
       The revised schedule calls for architect Steve Obering to provide his guidelines draft Dec. 20 to Scanlon, who will make copies for the specially tasked OWN subcommittee, called the Historic Overlay Guidelines Committee (HOGC). This group will then review the draft and offer suggestions in two meetings before January.
       The seasonal timing led HOGC chair Kristine Van Wert (also an OWN board member) to joke that the guidelines will be the committee's “Christmas present.” She added that she is “anxious” to see the guidelines, particularly with its use of modern Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping that she believes will enhance comprehension of how the older Westside developed over a roughly 150-year span.
       In January, it will be the state's turn. Its revisions will be incorporated into the final version of the guidelines, which is to be printed and ready for neighborhood meetings by mid-March, according to Scanlon.
       Assuming the guidelines meet with public favor, the step after that would be establishing the overlay zone itself, which would ultimately require public hearings and City Council approval.
       The voluntary zone would consist of close to 4,000 buildings and take in most of the older Westside. Supported by questionnaires showing no opposition to the idea, OWN has moved forward in the belief that people want to take proper care of their older homes and that preserving the Westside's historic character is a benefit to all.
       “The whole point is that we want to have useful information for homeowners,” Van Wert said of the guidelines. “If they're going to put a lot of time and energy into their homes, we want to come out with something for them that makes sense.”

Westside Pioneer article