The Harrodsburg-Mercer County Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing next month on a proposed text amendment which would allow property owners to apply to be included in Harrodsburg’s historic district. The hearing will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 5:30 p.m.
Joni House of the Harrodsburg Historic Preservation Board presented the commissioners with information about Harrodsburg becoming a certified local government. House said Harrodsburg had applied to the Kentucky Heritage Council, which suggested they create a stand alone structure that would allow property owners to apply to become part of the historic preservation district.
“This is our last step,” Horn said. Once the text amendment is made, Harrodsburg would regain its status as a certified local government, along with the opportunity to apply for federal funding through planning and National Trust grants.
Horn said the historic preservation board would decide if the building was eligible, but the planning and zoning commission would make the decision and the City of Harrodsburg would enact the designation.
“We’re already supposed to be doing this,” said Shawn Moore, the executive director of planning and zoning.
While the language would allow anyone to nominate a property, in practice, only the building owner would have to initiate the process, Horn said. Anyone in the city who owned a historic property—she gave Beaumont Inn as an example—could apply to be placed under the historic district protection.
“The only way to protect historic buildings is to bring them under the ordinance,” Horn said.
Once approved, properties could apply for federal tax credits. Property owners would also need to apply for certificates of appropriateness to make any changes to their property. This idea made some commissioners nervous. Horn said appropriateness is determined by a set of standards established by the secretary of interior.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to put in a wood window,” Horn said. “What you want to do is to maintain the integrity of the building as it is now.”
She said hiring an architect would not be necessary. Once a property owner filled out the application, Horn said the evidence would be presented to the architectural review board.
Horn said different communities can have completely different guidelines. She said details like paint colors and building materials are not in the guidelines in Harrodsburg.
“It’s not really about the aesthetic, it’s about the durability,” Horn said. “Historic preservation is not about making something look like it’s 150 years old.”
Commissioner Jerry Catlett said he didn’t want to make it more difficult for people to improve their properties. Horn said Harrodsburg’s design guidelines are already on the books. The text amendment allows people to apply to be under the protection of the historic district.
“This is generally for people looking to get into the district,” Horn said. “They’re generally looking for a tax credit.”
“I’m not opposed to it, I’m just not knowledgable,” Catlett said.
Horn said she’d be happy to meet with Catlett and go over the process with him.
The Harrodsburg-Mercer County Planning and Zoning Commission meets next on Tuesday, Feb. 7, starting at 5:30 p.m.