Friday, April 11, 2008

Flagstaff debutes new Landmarks Design Review Overlay District

[Source: Karl Eberhard, Flagstaff Historic Preservation Officer] -- A new ordinance has recently gone into effect, creating a new historic district in Flagstaff, known as the Landmarks Design Review Overlay District. This district is a floating overlay zone for individual structures and sites that could be located anywhere within the City limits. Applying the Landmarks Design Review Overlay District zoning designation to specific parcels would have the effect of making the design standards and guidelines applicable to such properties. The district is constructed for the preservation of a wide range of heritage resources including objects, structures, natural features, sites, places, or areas.

The design standards and guidelines introduce to Flagstaff "Thresholds of Significance", for both heritage resources and impacts, and "Mitigation Measures". The thresholds in the guidelines encompass a wide range of significance indicators. Though "generic" to serve many resources, the guidelines accomplish two basic but significant preservation and design goals. First, like many historic districts, they reference Federal standards for archeological and architectural resources. Second, they introduce "basic design compatibility" to the development review culture of the City.

As a tool, this action by the Council significantly simplifies the process for preservation efforts in Flagstaff by providing a "ready and waiting" zoning district and guidelines, eliminating six Council actions from the process. One landmark, the Ashurst House, located directly behind the more well know Pelota Court, has already been designated to this new district. The home was constructed in 1888 as the home of William Henry Ashurst, an Arizona Territorial Legislator and Flagstaff civic leader, and was the childhood home of Henry F. Ashurst. It is a good example of an early Vernacular Style house and an excellent example of the initial development of the Brannen Addition subdivision. It is independently eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places and is a contributing structure within the pending Southside Historic District. The City owns several historic properties and expects to apply the Landmarks Design Review Overlay District zoning designation to these properties this year. Several private property owners are expressing interest in designation as well.