Trustees look to support preservation

Hinsdale trustees want to support the Hinsdale Historic Preservation Commission in its work.

So next month they will discuss adding steps to the process for homeowners who want to tear down a historic district or landmarked home and build something new in its place.

“I think there’s competing interests here for historic preservation on one hand and the right of the homeowner,” Village President Tom Cauley said at Tuesday’s village board meeting. “I do think we have to strike a balance between these two concerns. That said, I think there’s more that we can to do to help the HPC in the cause of historic preservation.”

Currently homeowners must apply to the historic preservation commission to receive a demolition permit to tear down a historic or landmarked home and a certificate of appropriateness for the new home they want to build. But the commission’s decisions are not binding.

“The applicant can then go to the building department and get a demolition permit and build the house that they want to build,” Cauley said.

New regulations could require homeowners to submit a preliminary design to the HPC so it can be involved in the process before the architectural drawings are completed.

“I think that benefits the residents. I think it benefits the HPC. I think it would make the process more collaborative and less antagonistic,” Cauley said.

If the HPC denies either the demolition permit or the certificate of appropriateness, homeowners could be required to come before the village board. That might help persuade the homeowners, Cauley said, although the board’s decision would not be binding, either.

“I think that would help preserve historic homes but not deprive the homeowner from ultimately doing what he or she wants to do at the end of the day,” Cauley said.

Another idea is to require applicants to prepare a historic and architectural impact study.

Finally, Cauley said the village could create a book that illustrates what is meant by designs consistent with a historic district.

Trustees agreed they would like to discuss a draft ordinance to put these changes in place. Staff hopes to bring the draft to one of the village board meetings in March. The board is schedule to meet at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 5, and Tuesday, March 19.

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean