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Temple Terrace homeowners worry preservation program won't stay voluntary

TEMPLE TERRACE — Owners of historic homes expressed wariness recently over a city effort that would help them get their homes listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The main worry voiced by residents in a workshop July 25 was whether the proposed voluntary program would remain voluntary or whether restrictions on how people remodel their homes would eventually be mandated for all owners of historic homes.

"You said 'right now' it's voluntary,'' said Owen Whitman, one of the homeowners at the meeting in City Council chambers. "That bothers me when a governmental (official) tells me 'right now' something is a situation, 'cause you know you're about to step off a cliff.''

The city is gathering feedback from owners of two types of historic homes to gauge the level of interest in the city joining the Certified Local Government Program, which would facilitate the effort to preserve historic buildings. Cities that join the program, run by the National Parks Service and, in Florida, the Division of Historical Resources, are known as CLGs.

Letters went out to owners of Mediterranean Revival homes of the 1920s and mid-century modern homes of the 1950s and '60s.

Carole Miller said she takes good care of her Mediterranean Revival-style home but questioned why anyone would agree to "jump through the hoops'' of having their homes declared historic, which would mean a board would have to approve changes to the exterior.

"If you're going to preserve Temple Terrace, maybe you should start with 56th Street,'' she said, referring to the series of strip centers that make up the town's commercial district. "We have no identity.''

City planner Mary Samaniego, who made the presentation, said that while the city's intention is to make participation voluntary, as "with any laws, it's always subject to change in the future.''

Council members David Pogorilich, Alison Fernandez and Grant Rimbey attended the workshop. Rimbey, addressing residents' fears, pointed out that "any city you can imagine that was planned in the 1920s is already a CLG, so it's not some crazy wild thing that's going to be depriving everybody of their rights.''

Hunt Hawkins and other residents asked whether having their homes designated historic would lower property values because it would limit what buyers could do to the property. Rimbey said the designation actually would raise property values. "It's something that people look for when they buy a house.''

Resident Arnold Martinez suggested that the planning staff bring in people from established historic districts, such as Hyde Park, and "let them tell us their horror stories or their good stories.''

City community development director Charles Stephenson said the staff would get answers to the residents' questions and hold another public workshop.

Philip Morgan can be reached at pmorgan@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3435.

Temple Terrace homeowners worry preservation program won't stay voluntary 07/31/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 2:20pm]
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