Bungalow Historic District proposal for Vermont Street homes going back on shelf

A row of bungalows in the 2000 block of Vermont are part of an area the Quincy Preservation Commission was considering for a new historic district. But homeowners in the area raised concerns, so the plan has been shelved. (H-W Photo/Phil Carlson)
Posted: Jan. 11, 2013 10:34 am Updated: Jan. 25, 2013 1:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

The idea to create a Bungalow Historic District in Quincy appears to have little support -- again.

Most of the residents in the proposed area on Vermont between 20th and 24th streets recently voiced opposition to the plan during a series of neighborhood meetings.

Tom Fentem with the Department of Planning and Development said the Quincy Preservation Commission was testing the waters again to see whether there was interest in creating the district, but he doubts the matter will be addressed unless the recent sentiments residents expressed change.

"I doubt if anything is going to happen at all," Fentem said.

The latest plan is a modified version of one that was rejected in 2000. That plan called for a much larger district that would have been bounded by 20th Street, 24th Street, Vermont and Spring. Two-thirds of property owners must support the creation of a historic district for the Preservation Commission to consider it.

Alderman Mike Farha, R-4, who also lives in the proposed district, said the residents he talked to were opposed to the plan.

"Carving out historic districts is difficult because the people who own the properties really have to subscribe to it," Farha said. "Otherwise, you really put yourself in a hole. It becomes a situation where someone imposes something on someone else and they're not really comfortable with it.

"At the end of the day, there are historic areas that we probably need to firm up and protect and work on more so than areas that don't necessarily want it."

Homeowner Laura Sievert said many questions would have to be answered before she could support the district.

"We're marked on the map as one of the representative bungalows, but our house has been rebuilt, remodeled and refurbished so many times, I don't think it's historic," Sievert said. "It's old, but old is not the same as historic."

Sievert said her house is two stories and not the 1 1/2-story bungalows that the Preservation Commission was considering for a historic district.

Fentem said one of the benefits of a historic district would be the availability of tax incentives to property owners to significantly rehabilitate structures. But much of the opposition centers on the requirement that the Preservation Commission issue a "certificate of appropriateness" for a property owner to make significant changes to the exterior of any structure.

"It wouldn't necessarily freeze the exteriors as they are now," Fentem said. "Whenever there has been a question about an alteration (in other historic districts), the property owners have easily reached an accommodation."

But that doesn't resolve Sievert's reservations.

"Anytime there is somebody else in your own home's business, that's a concern," she said.

The city has four national historic districts -- the Northeast Historic District, the Downtown Historic District, the South Side German District and the East End Historic District.

The city has also established the Brewery Area Local Historic District near 10th and Kentucky, the Park Place Historic District east of 12th Street and the Zwick Row House Historic District in the 2400 block of College.