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Zoning Code Amendment to City Historic Review Process

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On March 6, 2013 Portland’s City Council unanimously voted to adopt zoning code amendments that will improve the City’s historic review process and create a quicker, easier-to-understand and more predictable review process for minor home improvement projects in historic and conservation districts. The zoning code amendments were effective on May 1, 2013.

In Portland’s nationally recognized historic districts most exterior work on buildings, as well as all new construction, is subject to review. Both property owners and historic preservation advocates have expressed concern that for minor exterior changes, the process is time-consuming and costly— and while most exterior work is required by State Law to be reviewed, the current process and fees may result in a loss of support for historic preservation, rather than furthering the City's historic preservation goals. The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) developed new code language to address these issues in collaboration with the Bureau of Development Services (BDS), which will administer and enforce the new regulations.

The following major amendments were approved:

1. New Historic Resources Definitions – Clarify terminology related to historic resources regulations, including the terms "repair," "maintenance" and "replacement."

2. Amended Historic Review Triggers/Exemptions – Determine the appropriate level of review in historic and conservation districts for the following:

a. minor alterations to structures

b. alterations on non-street facing facades

3. New Faster, Cheaper Review Process – A new land use review procedure with a shorter timeline, no local appeal and a lower fee was created. The new procedure type, called a Type 1 for small scale proposals less than 150 SF in residential zones, carries a substantially lower fee of $250.

This procedure will be specific to what is now known as Historic Resources Review (previously called Historic Design Review). The timelines for this procedure are shorter than the current Type 1, and you will notice this in the amount of time that is provided for responses. Meanwhile, the current Type 1 will be renamed Type 1x. All elements of the new Type 1x procedure are identical to the current Type 1 procedure.