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Bloomington Updates Historic Preservation Code

The ordinance regulating historic properties in Bloomington changed.

The City of Bloomington’s historic preservation and protection ordinance is consistent with state law, after the city council voted to revise the city code last night.

The most significant and debated change by the ordinance is the process of elevating a property from a conservation district to a historical district.

Under a historic designation, property owners are subject to many more restrictions than with conservation district status. All exterior changes to the structure must be reviewed and approved by the Bloomington Historic Preservation Commission in a historic district. However, conservation districts are only subject to review of major events like a demolition and new construction.

Currently, the local code allows the city council to vote before the third anniversary of establishing a home as a conservation or historical district on whether to keep the classification as is, elevate it to a historic district or to revoke the designation.

Under the new ordinance a district will automatically elevate after three years, unless a majority of property owners within the district object.

The vote was tabled at last week’s city council meeting in order for members to do more research and gather more information about the changes.

“I simply wanted a little more time for the community to understand the interpretation of the state law,” said councilmember Chris Sturbaum before the vote. “Whether we act tonight or not, being out of line with the state affects our current districts.”

Prior to the revision, Bloomington had three conservation districts: McDoel Gardens, Prospect Hill and Garden Hill Neighborhood. Now both McDoel and Prospect Hill are deemed a historic district. Garden Hill will remain a conservation district until June 2014.

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