Libertyville Historic Preservation Commission met November 15.
Libertyville Historic Preservation Commission met Nov. 15.
Here is the agenda provided by the Commission:
The Public Hearing for the Historic Preservation Commission was called to order by Chairman
James Hartshorne at 7:00 p.m. at 118 W Cook Avenue.
Members present: Chairman James Hartshorne, Katherine Hamilton-Smith, Mike Kollman, Amy
McEwan, Tom Wilkinson
Members absent: Robert Del Prato, Pam Hume
A quorum was established.
Village Staff present: John Spoden, Director of Community Development; Christopher Sandine,
Public Hearing for the Downtown Libertyville Historic District
Chairman Hartshorne introduced Commissioner Mike Kollman to present the findings of the Downtown Libertyville Historic District Application. Commissioner Kollman thanked the public for attending the meeting, and emphasized the presentation will provide background information on why the Commission is proposing an historic district.
Commissioner Kollman stated when it comes to character, you either have it or you don’t, and Libertyville has it. Commissioner Kollman stated the community has been around for many years, and the architecture and buildings in town have a story to tell. Commissioner Kollman stated it is important for that character to be preserved for future generations. Commissioner Kollman defined character as the qualities that make a place distinct from other places, exhibits qualities that distinguish a time and place distinct to Libertyville, and exemplify the cultural, social, political, or architectural history of the nation. Commissioner Kollman stated when the residents were asked if the community should be actively preserved, about ninety-five (95.1%) percent said yes. Commissioner Kollman stated the Historic Preservation Commission’s mission is to identify, preserve, and protect our heritage. Commissioner Kollman stated there are three opportunities to achieve this mission, and those are through local landmarks, historic landmarks, and historic districts. Commissioner Kollman provided a timeline of the Commission since their inception. In 2012, the Village Board adopted the Historic Preservation Ordinance. In 2014, the Village Board established the Historic Preservation Commission. In 2015, the SiteVista consultant put together a website for the Commission. In 2016, an historical survey was completed by Ramsey Historic Consultants. Commissioner Kollman stated the historic survey is available on the Village website and the website designed by SiteVista. In 2017, the Historic Preservation Commission has put forth an application for an Historic District, which is why we are here tonight. Commissioner Kollman stated there was a total of 349 properties within the historic survey completed by Ramsey Historic Consultants, and many of those properties were residentially non-contributing. Commissioner Kollman explained the criteria to create an historic district is described in four sections per the Ordinance. Commissioner Kollman stated the recommendation stemmed from the recommendation provided by Ramsey Historic Consultants, but included the Fould’s Factory Building. Commissioner Kollman stated there are forty-eight (48) contributing properties to this Historic District recommendation, or about seventy-one (71%) percent. Commissioner Kollman noted there are not residentially zoned properties included with this application. Commissioner Kollman stated properties within historic districts have definite economic benefits. Commissioner Kollman explained these properties have higher rates of appreciation, are insulated from extreme fluctuations in the market place, and simplify the approval process. Commissioner Kollman also explained there are social benefits, including better designs, a vehicle for education, and environmental opportunities.
Mr. Mark Redman, 355-357 N. Milwaukee Avenue, stated the Commission would be able to accomplish their goals without imposing an Historic District on the property owners. Mr. Redman stated the buildings in Libertyville are beautiful, but the restrictions imposed on the property owners will cause trouble. Mr. Redman stated the cost of renovations may increase up to 150% of the typical cost, because the owners will need to hire certified historic preservation workmen. Mr. Redman stated all of the exterior portions will need to be approved by the Commission, which will be expensive for the property owners. Mr. Redman stated an historic district could be a great idea if something significant happened in Libertyville, but this distinction provided no benefits to the building owners.
Commissioner Kollman stated the studies the Commission has been provided throughout the years have indicated a higher property values for those communities with an historic district. Commissioner Kollman stated the Ordinance does not require the property owner to use special paints or workers when doing renovations. Mr. Redman stated the historic district designation puts an extra expense on the property owner, as they are not able to tear down their building. Mr. Redman stated the historic district designation will make it difficult for these owners to sell their property. Commissioner Kollman stated the Ordinance does not prevent the property owners from tearing down their building, but the developer will need to show the replacement structure to the Historic Preservation Commission, to ensure the replacement is appropriate with the rest of the community. Mr. Redman questioned the importance of having an historic district for the downtown. Commissioner Kollman stated that ninety-five (95.1%) percent of the participants expressed interest in actively preserving the character of Libertyville. Commissioner Kollman went on to say neighboring communities lost significant buildings and then enacted an historic district after. He stated the Commission received advice from multiple communities to enact an historic district prior to losing the buildings that make up the character of the community. Commissioner Kollman stated the only difference with the current process is that a building cannot be torn down without the Historic Preservation Commission receiving plans for what will replace the building. Mr. Redman questioned what happens if the Commission does not approve the design. Commissioner Kollman stated the applicant is eligible to appeal to the Village Board, as with the current Appearance Review Commission process.
Mr. Philip Lentini, 521 Milwaukee Avenue/111-113 Cook Avenue, questioned how the current process works with tearing down buildings. Mr. John Spoden stated there is currently a moratorium on tearing down commercial and industrial buildings, however, there is nothing within the Code that requires this type of review for teardowns. Mr. Lentini questioned how many Commissioners are on the Historic Preservation Commission. Commissioner McEwan stated there are seven (7) members on the Board, but two (2) are missing from tonight’s meeting. Mr. Lentini questioned how many votes will be necessary to receive a positive recommendation and if the Commission positions are elected. Chairman Hartshorne stated the Mayor appoints members to the Commission and a simple majority is required for a positive recommendation. Mr. Lentini questioned if there is more time for the Commission to consider the proposal. Mr. Spoden stated the Commission is not voting on anything tonight. He stated the Commission will discuss the feedback that they are receiving tonight at the next regularly scheduled Commission meeting and decide if they want to make a recommendation to the Village Board. Mr. Spoden stated the next regularly scheduled meeting is December 5, 2017 at 4:00 PM. Mr. Lentini questioned how many Commissioners are on the current Appearance Review Commission process. Mr. Spoden stated there are only five (5) Commissioners. Mr. Lentini stated his concern regarding the cost of renovating or selling the building becomes difficult when property owners are not permitted to do what they wish with the exterior.
Commissioner Hamilton-Smith stated there are a couple properties located within the proposed historic district on the National Register. Commissioner Hamilton-Smith stated the property owners of those buildings are typically the ones who request that designation. However, Commissioner Hamilton-Smith cautioned that these properties are not protected from being torn down, as they simply have a designation. Commissioner Hamilton-Smith stated these properties are designated, but not in a way to restrict the exterior design or protect it from being torn down.
Ms. Mary Lentini, 521 N. Milwaukee Avenue/111-113 Cook Avenue, questioned if there was a way to ask the property owners if they think the proposed historic district is acceptable.
Ms. Gloria Redman, 357 N. Milwaukee Avenue, stated the historic district appears to add another governmental process for property owners. Mr. Spoden stated there is currently an Appearance Review Commission that reviews exterior design proposals, and this process will only transfer the responsibility to the Historic Preservation Commission. Mr. Spoden stated the major difference between the current process and the proposed process is in relation to teardowns. Ms. Redman stated the proposed process will interfere with owner’s rights and their ability to change.
Ms. Jan Hartshorne, 547 West Park Avenue, stated the intention of the Commission appears to help preserve the visual continuity of the Village, instead of permitting a modern, artistic structure that would likely disrupt the character. Ms. Hartshorne noted that the properties within those Villages with an historic district have maintained their value, even in times of recessions.
Mr. Ben Lovinger, 536-544 N. Milwaukee Avenue/601-605 N. Milwaukee Avenue, questioned how many communities within the area have an historic district. Commissioner Kollman stated there are a number of communities including Highland Park, Crystal Lake, Glenview, Rockford, Long Grove, Lake Bluff, and Lake Forest. Mr. Lovinger stated the real concern seems to be the strictness of the building code, which makes the buildings more expensive to maintain. Mr. Lovinger stated the historic district may be more beneficial in the long term, as a way to ensure the buildings being rebuilt fit into the community.
Mr. Redman stated there is already a strict approval process with the Appearance Review Commission. Mr. Redman stated applicant’s already try to conform to the committee they are going in front of, in terms of design. Mr. Spoden noted the true issue with tearing down a building in the downtown is the current parking requirement. Mr. Spoden stated the current parking requirement would be required with any new addition or building, or pay a fee in lieu.
Commissioner McEwan stated the full impact of the historic district can be found in the Ordinance. Commissioner McEwan stated Ordinances are vastly different based on the location of the community, such as comparing San Francisco’s to Libertyville’s. Commissioner Kollman stated the Ordinance uses the term compatible when describing designs and noted it will be a judgment call. Mr. Spoden noted the Historic Preservation Commission will be recommending their proposal of a Historic District to the Village Board, and ultimately, the Village Board has the final vote. As a reminder, Mr. Spoden stated the next Historic Preservation Commission meeting will be on December 5th at 4:00 PM, located in the Board Room at Village Hall. With no further discussion, Commissioner McEwan made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Hamilton-Smith to adjourn the Historic Preservation Commission.
Motion carried 5 - 0.
Meeting adjourned at 8:01 p.m.