Saturday, August 19, 2006

Phoenix City Council move to expand historic overlay 'unusual'

[Source: Rebecca I. Allen, Arizona Republic] -- In a move residents and city staff call "highly unusual," the Phoenix City Council initiated a historic overlay expansion in a central Phoenix neighborhood without the property owners' involvement. Some owners believe the City Council's action constitutes an end run around the public process, which could take away their property rights and decrease property values. Historic preservation advocates living in the Encanto-Palmcroft Historic District say the intent is to line up the city's boundary of the historic district with that of the National Register of Historic Places and believe the overlay will increase the value of homes in the neighborhood.

Historic preservation overlay zoning recognizes properties as historically significant and worthy of preservation. The overlay does not change uses permitted by existing zoning, however, it limits alterations to existing buildings and requires new construction be approved by the Historic Preservation Commission. At the heart of the issue is 33-unit apartment complex between 13th and 15th avenues just north of McDowell Road. Built in 1943, the two-bedroom units were for war workers. In recent times the apartments have suffered blight and are what some neighbors, city staff and Phoenix police personnel term crime ridden, with frequent drug, prostitution and assault arrests. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]