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In an effort to sort out supporters and opposers, the Historic District 'vote' recount is underway

DAVID F. ASHTON - These are the forms that landowners were asked to submit - to support, or to object to, the proposed Eastmoreland Historic District. The Oregon State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) announced on February 13 that it was beginning process of recounting the number of private-property owners and notarized objections – for resubmission concerning the proposed Eastmoreland Historic District nomination made to the National Park Service (NPS).

According to information provided by Oregon Parks & Recreation Associate Director of Communications Chris Havel, on May 15, 2017, their office forwarded the National Register of Historic Places nomination for the proposed historic district to NPS – and, in July, the NPS returned the nomination for "procedural deficiencies", because the SHPO could not determine whether the majority of the property owners objected to listing the District, as required by federal program rules.

The NPS found "no other technical or professional inadequacies" in the nomination document or process, Havel added.

After the SHPO asked the NPS and the Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) to provide guidance on the application of federal and state laws and rules for determining the total number of owners and counting objections – and now that it has received the direction requested – the SHPO will apply federal law to complete three main tasks, Havel said. Havel reminded that a historic nomination is a "negative proposition", that is, unless a bonafide property owner objects in writing, the individual is considered to be in favor of a historic district.

The list of rules handed down by the DOJ seem logical; one "vote" per owner listed on a property's tax role; trusts and corporations each get one vote.

Asked by THE BEE if there are circumstances under which the deceased are permitted a vote – clearly, the departed are not able to register an objection from the beyond – Havel helped refine the questions:

"Can the living make an objection to a historic district nomination for the deceased, who is still on a property title within a historic district nominated area?" And, "If yes, what relationship must the living have to the deceased?"

After researching these questions with authorities, Havel responded:

"An executor or personal representative of an estate may submit a notarized objection on behalf of a deceased person who qualifies as an owner. If a person dies after submitting a notarized objection, it counts because it was valid at the time it was offered. Likewise, an executor or personal representative of an estate may submit a notarized notice withdrawing the objection of a deceased person."

The tasks that will focus on determining whether the majority of the private-property owners in the designated area object to listing the District in the National Register of Historic Places include:

1. Review existing objections and provide an opportunity for property owners to submit new objection forms, correct deficient objection forms, or withdraw an objection;

2. Determine the total number of property owners and objections; and,

3. Resubmit the nomination for the proposed District to NPS.

Currently, Havel said, the SHPO is reviewing existing objections, and providing an opportunity for property owners to submit new objection forms, correct deficient objection forms, or withdraw an objection.

On April 13, the office will determine total number of property owners and objections; and then, the SHPO will resubmit the nomination for the proposed District to the National Park Service on May 18.

"The SHPO asks that all correspondence be sent to the office by the end-of-day on April 13," Havel told THE BEE.

While the SHPO will send any objections, withdrawn objections, or letters of support received to the NPS after April 13, Havel reported, the office does not guarantee that those documents will be considered by the NPS after the nomination document is sent on May 18.

Property owners in the proposed district started learning if their objection as submitted is "deficient"; the SHPO is contacting each property owner submitting a "deficient objection" with a written letter by mail. "The letter will identify the problem, and provide instructions for how to correct it," Havel said.

If a property owner is unsure whether a notarized objection or letter of support has been sent in, he or she can call at 503/986-0690 – or, for faster service, e-mail them – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. – and include your full legal name, or the name of organization you represent, as the name appears in the Multnomah County tax records, together with the complete property address.

If, on May 18, the SHPO determines that the majority of the private-property owners object to historic district designation, the nomination document and accompanying materials will be sent to the NPS, but the District will not be listed in the National Register.

Instead, the NPS will review the materials and make a "Determination of Eligibility" that does not trigger local, state, or federal regulations, and owners may not receive benefits reserved for listed properties, including tax incentives and grant funds.

The NPS isn't offering a "public comment period", having met its own agency's notice requirements under federal law.

To submit an objection form, letter of support, or request to withdraw an objection, go online to the agency's website:

www.oregon.gov/oprd/HCD/NATREG/Pages/Eastmoreland-Historic-District.aspx

Please e-mail – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. – or call 503/986-0690 to request paper forms.

These documents should be printed, signed and notarized, and sent by mail to:

State Historic Preservation Office

RE: Eastmoreland Historic District

Oregon Parks and Recreation Department

725 Summer Street N.E., Suite C

Salem, OR 97301

The attorney for Eastmoreland resident Tom Brown, who has filed two lawsuits regarding the nomination of this historic district, told THE BEE that they had also heard from the governmental agencies.

"We are reviewing the information that has been provided, and assessing our options," said Nathan Morales of the Perkins Coie law firm.

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