The history of Woodside has long been a sense of pride for our many residents. As the years have past, the Town of Woodside has seen the need to help ensure the preservation of our many outstanding historic residences, and other structures that make our Town so unique. The Town Council wants to make the historical designation process more straightforward. They are considering specific standards to designate as well as to remove properties and buildings off of historic registries.
COWs should be concerned. The “industry standard” on historic buildings essentially is anything that was built 50 years ago or older may potentially qualify. That ladies and gentlemen means everything built on or before 1963 could potentially be deemed historic! The process being proposed is that every single structure (yes even the decrepit 20 sq. ft. shed in the corner of your property) must have an assessment of environmental impact written and submitted to the Town for review if you would like to remove, add or remodel the structure. The Towns Historical Committee, ASRB and staff will review this assessment. Now if it is found to have no significance then, yea! you are allowed to demolish it! But if they find it of historical significance based on who designed, built or even lived there, you will have to do a complete Environmental Impact Report on each structure the Town believes may have significance. This is a very long and costly process. These reports are again reviewed by the Town staff, ASRB and the History Committee (which has been proposed to be the designated decision making party).
Now here is the tricky part all of the committee members are also Town citizens, and the Town has stated they are trying to get away from neighbors, friends or in some cases enemies from having control over deeming others properties historic. This is great, however by giving the Historic Committee the decision making power on historic structures they have in turn given a small group of people who live in Woodside, with a special interest, that very power. You will have very little recourse if the Committee and Town agree that your structure is a historic resource. You can appeal to the Planning Commission, however this will not stop the historic review process and most likely won’t get you very far. Proposed penalties for violations go very far.
You should be concerned.
The Town has set up a study session for TONIGHT April 9th 2013 Town Council Meeting in order for the Council to review the draft Historic Preservation Ordinance and provide staff with any changes or recommendations.