Elizabeth considers historic district

Community meeting set for June 12 as Historic Advisory Board lays out plan

In early 2022, the Town of Elizabeth Historic Advisory Board (HAB) launched a survey to gauge public interest in historic preservation and in creating a historic district for the town — and received an overwhelmingly positive response from town residents and others in the area.
Now the HAB has laid out plans for a new historic district, based on more than a year of work updating design and preservation guidelines.
On May 8, the HAB held a community meeting to update residents and discuss the benefits of creating a historic district, led by HAB Chair John Quest.
As explained, a historic district would:
1. Protect and enhance the identity and character of the town.
2. Protect and enhance property values.
3. Enhance the economy of the town, encouraging marketing and sales opportunities.
4. Expand access to state and federal tax credits.
5. Open up opportunities for certain grants, including facade improvement grants.
6. Enhance the concept of a sense of place.
7. Increase heritage tourism.
8. Revitalize downtown Elizabeth.
“We’ve defined a boundary so we can move forward with the idea. We do have some legwork to do to work with the property owners to get their approval. We’ll be working on that this summer,” said Quest. “A lot of the groundwork is in place, we just need to move towards making it happen.”
Another goal of the meeting was to discuss the proposed draft of the updated design and preservation guidelines for the Town of Elizabeth Municipal Code. The current guidelines were written in 1998 and include limited text regarding historic preservation. They also focus primarily on new construction and renovation of non-historical structures.
The newly proposed guidelines would focus specifically on preservation within the town limits. They will also include information on new construction in a historic district, including both residential and commercial properties.
The HAB will propose the guidelines to Town of Elizabeth Planning Commission and Board of Trustees later this summer. The new historic preservation guidelines will apply to any building 50 years old or older classified as contributing structures, especially those buildings that meet one or more characteristics of historical significance:
1. Associated with a significant historical event.
2. Associated with individuals that played significant roles in history.
3. Structures that have a distinctive architectural style.
The design guidelines for properties within the limits of the proposed historic district would apply to the exterior building surface that faces the street. Building components that will be addressed include siding and roofing, front wall fascia and cornice detailing, doors and windows, awnings and canopies, building mass and integration with its surroundings, and color.
“We definitely don’t want to recommend creating a false sense of history on Main Street, we want buildings 100 years from now to be recognizable from the 2020s and not mistaken for the 1920s,” said HAB Vice Chair Aimee Woodall. “There is nuance in design for that (for new “infill” construction). We want there to be a sympathetic gesture to the historic buildings without trying to replicate something that wasn’t here in the 1920s.”
Audience members posed several questions, some wondering about any drawbacks that property owners within the proposed historic district may face.
Q: “I assume there is a cost to being a part of this district?”
A: “No, there is not,” said Quest. “It’s not a taxing district.”
Q: “Are you working in conjunction with the Main Street Board?”
A: “We’re both on the same path that historic preservation is an important component. We’re totally behind the things they’re considering doing with the street and landscaping,” said Quest. “We continue to meet with them and talk about stuff and make it look like the decisions are coming from one place rather than from two separate entities.”
Q: “Are there drawbacks to creating an historic district?”
A: “You don’t have total control and free reign of what you’re going to do with your building,” said Quest. “It has to maintain the historic presence that it has on Main Street.”
Q. “What are the benefits for property owners?”
A: “A lot of towns have this in place already and they’ve seen the change in people shopping there, their businesses are doing better, property values are going up,” said Quest. “It’s hard to explain how much that will be, but it does happen.”
“It’s knowing there’s security in your investment,” said Zach Higgins, Town of Elizabeth Community Development Director. “It’s being maintained and continuing to be sellable for generations to come.”
In order to approve the proposed historic district, 75% of the property owners within the district must agree. It is done through a vote-by-signature process.
The Historic Advisory Board will hold a second informational meeting about the proposed historic district and design guidelines on June 12 in the Elizabeth Town Hall board room, 151 S. Banner St. The meeting will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Members of the community are encouraged to attend and bring any questions and suggestions they have with them.
To learn more about the HAB and read about their historic preservation plan, visit townofelizabeth.org/cd/page/historic-preservation-program.
Elizabeth, historic district, historic advisory board, Elbert County, Colorado


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