SAVE MICHIGAN’S HISTORIC DISTRICTS

 

Add your voice TODAY in support of our heritage! Sign our petition and join the effort to #SaveYourHD.

Updated 4/3/2016

A virtual death warrant to every historic district in the state of Michigan.

That’s what preservationists across the state–and across the country–are calling Michigan House Bill 5232 and the identical Senate Bill 720, currently under consideration in legislative committee.

The bills, sponsored by Representative Chris Afendoulis (R-Grand Rapids) and Senator Peter MacGregor (R-Rockford), is an attempt to dismantle the historic district system created under Public Act 169 of 1970.

Historic district ordinances are the only way for a community to protect its historic buildings and landmarks. The bill, however, hopes to eliminate historic districts by making them too difficult to implement and maintain.

When the bill was originally introduced in January 2016, it included provisions to (among other things) automatically dissolve all historic districts in Michigan (current and future) every 10 years unless re-approved in a general election, as well as require a two-thirds vote of property owners in the district to approve before the issue could even be put to vote. That language was removed in a second draft of the bill, accepted on 2/24.

Currently, the bill is in its sixth draft. However, the House Committee on Local Government has not yet given the bill its stamp of approval. So there’s still time to make the case for leaving the historic district law intact.

Get the details and read the press coverage here.

Concerned? The best way YOU can help is by emailing your state rep/senator and asking them to vote NO.

To make it even easier, we’ve prepared a contact form (below) that automatically sends a letter to Governor Rick Snyder and every state rep and senator in the Michigan legislature.

Add your voice TODAY in support of your heritage!

Here’s a sample message (courtesy of the National Trust for Historic Preservation) that you may customize with why local historic districts matter to you, then paste into the “comment” section of the form:

I am writing to urge your support for Public Act 169, the Local Historic Districts Act of 1970 by rejecting House Bill 5232 and Senate Bill 720, in either original or amended form.

Michigan relies on current state law, PA 169 of 1970, to protect significant historic resources from inappropriate alterations, incompatible new construction, and development pressures that often result in demolition. It does so by enabling local governments to safeguard their historic resources by creating local historic districts.

Even in their amended forms, House Bill 5232 and Senate Bill 720 would undermine the power of the local historic designation process and administration to effectively protect Michigan’s heritage by:

* Dismissing nationally recognized guidelines that govern the upkeep of historic resources (the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation) in favor of arbitrary guidelines “that are in the best interest of the community.”

* Retaining vague,  prejudicial language about “historically accurate rehabilitations costing more” than average work.

* Politicizing the process by sending appeals to local elected officials rather than experts at the non-partisan State Historic Preservation Review Board.

For these reasons, and several others, these pieces of legislation should be resoundingly rejected. These bills would weaken protections for historic resources and threaten the viability of local historic districts in Michigan. Our historic places and neighborhoods are simply too important to allow this to happen.

Please oppose these bills. Thank you for your efforts.

Thank you–and don’t forget to share the call to action! Hearing from just 8 or 10 constituents can have a big impact on legislators, and sending a message only takes a few minutes. What a tradeoff, when you consider that our state’s entire history is at stake.

Every voice, every email counts.

#SaveYourHD

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