VENICE — Historic preservation was on the minds of the members of the Planning Commission on Tuesday, but not which city board should be in charge of approving demolitions.

The Commission had told staff it was in favor of combining the Historic Preservation and Architectural Review boards, and the relevant draft land-use regulations do that.

They also provide extensive standards by which applications for the demolition of historic properties will be evaluated.

But they cast too broad a net, Commission members agreed.

Razing any building in the city’s Historic Venice district and many of the buildings in the Venetian Theme district would require a certificate of demolition, Development Services Director Jeff Shrum said.

And building deemed a contributing structure to the John Nolen plan for the city has that protection.

That’s the case whether the building itself has historic value, though.

Commission Chair Barry Snyder cited the Edgewater district east of the bypass and south of East Venice Avenue.

Intended by Nolen to be an area for workforce housing, there are a number of houses in the area that were built in the 1920s.

At least twice as many were built in the 1950s, however, and don’t have a connection to the Nolen plan other than where they sit.

The city’s preservation effort should focus on Nolen-era houses in Nolen-plan areas, he said.

Commission Vice Chair Kit McKeon said that when he and his wife wanted to add onto their house, they were required to get a certificate of architectural compliance even though it was built decades after the Nolen era.

The reason, he said, was that the house was considered an example of post-World War II construction.

“I’m sure that was a period when Venice flourished,” Snyder said, “but I still go back to, what are we trying to preserve here?”

The same theme came up in a discussion of the creation of new historic districts, which the combined board would have the authority to propose.

The proposal would have to be backed by a report and then get the approval of 66% of the property owners in the proposed district and 100% of the owners of contributing properties.

Commission Member Dick Lawson said he was “touch-and-go” on the 100% standard.

If the city is trying to preserve 1920s houses, he said, the input of the owners of 1950s houses isn’t needed.

Except it is, if they’re considered as contributing to the Nolen plan.

Commission Member Jerry Jasper said that owners should be able to decide whether they want their property to be considered contributing.

Shrum said that’s how provision is intended to work.


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