Overview of 2015 Changes to St. Petersburg's Preservation Ordinance
At St. Petersburg Preservation, we promote an appreciation of the city’s heritage and culture. We want to encourage historic preservation in a way that’s inclusive and takes into consideration the wide range of views on how best to protect St. Petersburg’s sense of place and special character.
In 2015, the city completed a multi-year effort to revise its historic preservation ordinance. While there were many changes proposed, it was the changes related to how a neighborhood submits an application to become a historic district that was the primary subject of debate. SPP advocated for a neighborhood friendly application process while others cited "property rights" as a reason not to change the city's cumbersome application requirements. Even with more simplified application requirements, the neighborhood designation process remains one with multiple opportunities for property owner input.
During the preservation ordinance revision debate, there was some misinformation offered about what one can and can’t do in a district. In actuality, you can paint your house any color you want. There are no restrictions on changes you make inside your home. And there is flexibility with such things as what kinds of replacement windows you can install.
The ordinance requirements are workable and not overly onerous. And in the process, they are protecting the unique character of our city's designated neighborhoods and maintaining or improving their neighborhood property values.
In terms of what level of neighborhood support should be required to start the district application process, SPP believes a majority of responding property owners voting “yes” is sufficient for moving an application forward. Within the adopted ordinance amendments, City Council passed a requirement for a simple majority of all owners to vote yes before an application may be submitted. This means that property owner who fail to vote are automatically counted as a vote against submitting the district application.
But it’s important to know that an application is just a first step. The City Council must approve any such designation, a multi-month process that includes many opportunities for public input, including at least two public hearings.
We encourage our neighborhoods’ residents to learn more about district designation and to get answers for any questions that might come up. SPP is happy to speak to neighborhood groups about the benefits of historic district designation.
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