Salt Lake City Adopts New Processes to Designate Local Historic Districts and Create Character Conservation Districts

On October 23, 2012, the Salt Lake City Council adopted ordinances that establish a revised process for the designation of new local historic districts and created a process to establish a new neighborhood stabilization tool known as character conservation districts.The purpose of establishing a new local historic district is to preserve the history of cultural resources, great examples of architecture and character defining development patterns of a specific property (Landmark Site), an area (local historic district) or a group of unique properties in separate locations that are related by a specific historic characteristic (thematic designation). Changes to properties and the exterior of buildings in local historic districts must meet specific regulations before building permits can be issued.

Character conservation districts are different from local historic districts in that the property owners determine what character defining features of the area and buildings are to be retained. Once the property owners identify those features, the City adopts regulations to ensure that development in the area complies with those regulations. The regulations may address things like

  • Building height
  • Building size
  • How much of the lot the building can cover
  • How far back the buildings have to be setback from property lines
  • Roof design

Who can file an application to create a local historic district or a Character Conservation District?
An application to create a new local historic district or a character conservation district can be initiated by the Mayor, a majority of the City Council members or a property owner with the support of fifteen percent (15%) of the property owners within the proposed historic district. Support of property owners is demonstrated by signatures obtained by the applicant within a six month time frame.

What happens after an application is filed?
Once an application has been submitted to create a local historic district or a character conservation district, the new ordinances establish the following steps:

  1. Public Outreach Process: The Planning Staff conducts a public outreach process to help property owners within the proposed local historic district or character conservation district understand what the regulations and benefits are to owning property within such a district
  2. Public Hearing Process: The proposed historic district or character conservation district will be considered first by the Historic Landmark Commission and then the Planning Commission. Each commission will hold at least one public hearing before forwarding recommendations to the City Council.
  3. Public Support Ballot: Before the City Council considers the recommendations of the Historic Landmark and Planning commissions, a public support ballot will be mailed to all property owners within the proposed district to determine the level of support by property owners for the designation of the historic district or character conservation district.
  4. City Council Consideration: Following the public support balloting, the City Council will hold at least one public hearing before deciding whether or not to designate a new local historic district or create a character conservation district. If a majority of the property owners who voted in the public support ballot process support the creation of a new district, the City Council may, by a majority vote, approve the district. If less than a majority of property owners who voted in the public support ballot process support the proposed district, the City Council may only approve the proposed district by a super-majority vote (five Council members).

WANT MORE INFO?

Historic Designation Process
Joel Paterson, Planning Manager
(801) 535-6141
joel.paterson@slcgov.com

Character Conservation Districts
Maryann Pickering, Principal Planner
(801) 535-7660
maryann.pickering@slcgov.com