Pamplin Media Group – Eastmoreland Historic District issue could be resolved by summer
The effort and controversy has been going on for half a decade. Is it possible that the matter will be decided soon?
Rumors of establishing more of the Eastmoreland neighborhood as a federally protected “historic district” began as early as 2012.
Whether or not the Eastmoreland Historic District proposal will be accepted in 2022 remains a question – but the proposal will soon be resubmitted.
Here is the history
Since some residents have moved to the Eastmoreland neighborhood in the past five years and may not be familiar with the problem, here is a brief history of this proposal.
First, the potential historic district encompasses approximately 475 acres and is generally bounded by SE Woodstock Boulevard to the north; by SE Chavez Boulevard and 36th Avenue to the east; by Berkeley Park and Crystal Springs Boulevard to the south; and by 27th and 28th avenues on the west.
In short, the developers are in favor of the Eastmoreland Historic District proposal, as they say it will preserve the nature of the neighborhood, limit redevelopment and end “lot splitting” – by building two new residences where only one once stood.
Opponents said they were not in favor of a historic district because it severely limits and restricts property owners’ rights; including how they can upgrade or change their homes; and that these restrictions may have a negative impact on the value of their property.
Five years of conflict
At a meeting of the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association (ENA) held May 26, 2016, staff from the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) â€“ a division of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) â €” attended a meeting at the ENA-sponsored Eastmoreland Golf Course, to answer questions about the National Register process. Then, under the impetus of the ENA, the registration process was launched.
In July 2017, the application was blocked when National Park Service (NPS) National Registry staff returned the application for “procedural errors”. Then, in 2018, some residents objected to the proposed neighborhood transferring ownership of their properties into a thousand new property trusts, to increase their voting power – and the proposal became mired in legal wrangling.
After the SHPO forwarded the nomination of the historic Eastmoreland district to the NPS for a final decision in May 2019, that agency again rejected it – citing “continuing uncertainties” related to the issue of landowner counting in the boundaries of the proposed district.
On April 3, 2019, an Oregon Court of Appeals ruled that, in part:
“The provision of the State Historic Preservation Office Property Counting Standard that designates trusts as eligible owners [is hereby] considered invalid.”
So while the court ruling did not specifically invalidate single properties having multiple trusts for the purposes of raising multiple objections, it did task SHPO with going through a rule-making process involving trusts as than owners.
Although slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and into 2021, the SHPO has continued to settle its administrative rules regarding proposed historic districts – including how and what historic district objections are counted.
Business Rules Completed
June 25, 2021 SHPO Historic District Program Rules [OAR 736-050-0220 through OAR 736-050-0270] effective upon filing with the Oregon Secretary of State. A copy of these rules is available online: secure.sos.state.or.us/oard/displayDivisionRules.action?selectedDivision=3433
The rules adopted state that the creation of multiple trusts as owners on a single property – giving the owner multiple “votes” to oppose the creation of a historic district – is prohibited.
See section 736-050-0220, (2) where it is written, in part:
“. . . Public order specifically includes the fact of offering each owner of private property within the limits of a building, district, object, site or structure, such as defined in 36 CFR § 60.3(a), (d), (j), (l) and (p) (2020) named to the National Register of Historic Places (National Register) a single opportunity to object to listing the property in the national registry, regardless of the number of assets or portion of an asset that person owns as provided in 36 CFR § 60.6(g)(2020).”
In section 736-050-0230 part (16), an “Owner” property is defined in more detail.
And, in section 736-050-0250, part (15) subsection (F): “Count a trust as one owner when multiple trustees are named, but no trust is identified.”
“With these administrative rules, we have solved the problem of how property is defined and how objections to a historic district are counted; it has not been challenged legally,” said Ian Johnson, Assistant Preservation Officer. history of the OPRD, at the SHPO. THE BEE in January.
SHPO plans to resubmit in June
In a memo sent on December 29, Ian P. Johnson, Deputy Assistant State Historic Preservation Officer at the OPRD’s SHPO Heritage Division – information confirmed by him to THE BEE on January 3 – said their office was planning to resubmit the National Save the Historic Places Nomination Form for the proposed Eastmoreland Historic District in June – if all goes according to plan.
The final difficulty, which has yet to be ironed out, relates again to changing their administrative rules for proposed historic districts – specifically, this time, the rule regarding the need to have a notarized objection.
Another rule change is yet to come
“This is because the NPS explains” that an owner’s objection to listing on the National Register of Historic Places (National Register) or designation as a National Historic Landmark does not need to be notarized, if made pursuant to 28 USC § 17’â„which permits the owner to sign and date a statement ‘under penalty of perjury,’” Johnson explained.
Johnson provided that timeline, adding the following note: “The planned timeline also takes into account ongoing office closures and expected staffing shortages in the spring of 2022.”
· February 2022: Complete the establishment of administrative review procedures assuming the state rule change is successful.
· 1st of March: Take public comment on the state rule amendment, to align with the federal change that eliminates the need for notarized objections.
· April: Complete the rule change, if the changes are approved by the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission. Notify owners and start collecting feedback and updating nomination objections.
· May June: Process the nomination as comments and objections continue to come in.
· June 2022: Submit nomination with recommendation to the National Park Service.
THE BEE will continue to follow this labyrinthine story to its conclusion, as it has for… well, years!
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