Landmark list gets hearing
Ian Jarman and Barbara Toman purchased their Memorial Parkway home in 2003 knowing it had historic value.
"That was one of the reasons we bought the home," Toman said of the couple's purchase.
The home was designed by Francis Underwood, who constructed a group of homes in the 1950s using many elements of the New England cottages he admired in his younger days.
Now, several of the homes in the neighborhood located west of Soldiers Field Golf Course are on a list of 77 properties that could be deemed landmark properties under Rochester's new heritage preservation ordinance.
The list is the topic of a public hearing during Wednesday's Rochester City Council meeting, and Jarman plans to attend to support the inclusion of his home.
While being added to the list of potential landmark properties could be seen as the first step in seeking grant or loan funding through a proposed city-run plan, Jarman said it's not the reason for supporting the list that includes his home. He said he wants to support the list to help others take steps toward restoring historic homes, which he knows from experience takes time and financial commitment.
Jarman and his wife also bring the support of their neighbors, who they gathered to discuss the list when they were notified their homes were on it. Most approved of being included.
"In general, there is support for the concept of historical preservation," Jarman said.
Rochester Assistant City Administrator Aaron Reeves, however, noted not all notified property owners had the same response. The city has received requests to remove approximately a third of the properties from the list.
Reeves said he will modify the list for Wednesday's hearing to reflect requests for removal, leaving only properties with owners who support inclusion and those that didn't respond to notifications.
"If they don't want to be on the list, we are going to pull then from the public hearing and route them through the Heritage Preservation Commission," he said.
The newly adopted ordinance calls for a commission hearing regarding any request to remove or include a property on the list, which Reeves noted is primarily a holding list until the commission has an opportunity to determine whether a property should be added to the city's landmark list, which would make it eligible for the proposed funding programs and place limitations on future property renovations.
Of the at least 25 properties being removed from Wednesday's list, Reeves said many are government properties, which wouldn't see benefit from a tax-supported funding program. He noted that doesn't mean there's a move to alter the buildings.
Olmsted County commissioners recently requested fairground properties be removed. Public Works Director Mike Sheehan said it was merely to avoid conflicts.
"The county has no plans to do anything with those buildings," he said. "We're actually trying to improve them to keep them in the same condition today. We just felt being they were under the jurisdiction of the county, the county should be taking care of these facilities."
Other property owners, including Mayo Clinic, already have their own research citing the lack of historic value, Reeves said, noting the commission can take a closer look at that information at a later date.
The list of 77 properties was reduced from much-longer lists, but Reeves said little research was conducted on some of the properties. In some cases, a consultant may have merely looked at the property from the street to see potential for historic significance.
The commission, he said, will be in a better position to look deeper into property histories and potentially hire a consultant if further research is needed. The city already is seeking proposals from potential long-term consultants.
Reeves noted it could take two years to make it through the 25 commission hearings that will be required to make a ruling on the status of the properties pulled from Wednesday's list.