City staff questions OWN strategy on historic overlay

       Going into the informal City Council meeting Monday, Feb. 12, the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) and City Planning staff are not seeing eye to eye on OWN's proposed historic overlay zone for the older Westside.
       In a report to the Historic Preservation Board Feb. 6, Tim Scanlon of Planning said that while he supports the concept, he believes OWN is underestimating the cost of preparing design guidelines as a precursor to an overlay.
       OWN has formally asked the city to give it $15,000 to hire an architect, who would draw up the guidelines for a 3,600-residence area north of Highway 24. That area was previously determined by the OWN board, which also teamed with the Old Colorado City Historical Society to pay a photographer $4,000 to take individual pictures of those houses.
       OWN has a pre-chosen architect who has told board members he could do the work for $15,000. OWN board member Dave Hughes said this week the city ought to support the effort because of the positive effect the overlay would have on Westside architecture. Using the guidelines, the zone would not only provide direction on how people can fix up historically and build new compatibly, but it would be based on incentives, not on penalties (as in the existing Old North End overlay).
       Scanlon, the city's designated historic-preservation planner, does not dispute those points, but “based on our experience,” he said $15,000 would probably be enough to generate guidelines for only 300 to 500 properties. He added the suggestion that OWN reduce its 3,600 number by weeding out the various buildings that do not “contribute” historically. This would also avoid future problems regarding which structures qualify for tax incentives, he said.
       Hughes previously talked to council on the matter in early January. A decision was made at the time for staff to look into the matter and schedule it for a future meeting. Hughes will add a new argument this time: a letter from prominent Westside developer Matt Craddock, stating how design guidelines would help him and others do business on the Westside.

Westside Pioneer article