A Historic District, In Name

This piece from <em>Preservation</em> magazine looks at how historic districts in Portland fall short in preventing incompatible uses.
January 27, 2009, 2pm PST | Nate Berg
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"But there's a fly in the historically accurate color palette. A decade ago, when Montgomery and Byrnes fell in love with the tree-lined streets and century-old houses that define the Irvington Conservation District, their decision to buy the house was strongly influenced by the 'Historic Irvington' signs they had noticed throughout the area. 'What we're really upset about,' Montgomery says, 'is we thought the signs meant the city would protect the character of the neighborhood.'"

"Now Montgomery has realized those signs were just signs. Because despite Irvington's conservation district status, development there threatens to damage the neighborhood's distinctive look."

"In Portland, a regional governmental agency known as Metro is responsible for maintaining that city's urban growth boundary. 'So Metro has to comply with the state,' says Gisvold, 'and cities and counties have to comply with Metro. And Metro has established minimum density requirements that cities and counties have to meet.' Largely, it's those density requirements that unintentionally threaten Portland's historic districts."

"Currently, if a proposed development in a historic district meets zoning requirements, there's little residents can do to stop its construction-even when they feel it's oversized or out of character with their community."

Full Story:
Published on Tuesday, January 27, 2009 in Preservation
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