Revisions to Title 14 have not been drafted in haste

Oak Street in southeast Hinsdale soon will take on a drastically different look with the pending demolitions of two iconic, historic homes — all because Hinsdale’s preservation ordinance lacks substance.

Members of Hinsdale’s Historic Preservation Commission anticipated that homes of this architectural significance could be at risk and began tireless efforts at public hearings to revise what is called Title 14 of the Hinsdale Village Code. This began in November 2018 with the village appointing respected planning consultant Mike D’Onofrio to offer advice on what Hinsdale’s more forward-thinking neighbors had enacted in terms of preservation.

The revisions to this code, which are still ongoing, have been thoughtfully reviewed over the past year and a half. The goal of this re-work is to encourage owners and potential buyers of significant historic homes in the Robbins Park Historic District, as well as owners of buildings in the Historic Downtown District, to preserve and renovate these structures in an informed way and to safeguard streetscapes for years to come. In the event that demolition is ultimately decided upon, the revised Title 14 would ensure the process is orderly, efficient and least disrupting to neighbors.

This process has not been rushed or conducted behind closed doors. The commission is well on its way to presenting a thoughtful body of work. However, there’s still work to be done. Let’s incentivize homeowners to protect Hinsdale’s history and heritage. Let’s work to make it easier to rehabilitate homes so future generations can know what separates Hinsdale from other villages and towns. — Alexis Braden, Historic Preservation Commissioner