In Other News
Protecting Sedona’s historic character is important to the city’s Historic Preservation Commission.
By Trista Steers
Larson Newspapers

Protecting Sedona’s historic character is important to the city’s Historic Preservation Commission.

And now, with City Council’s help, the commission is offering financial incentive in the form of a small grant to encourage residents to protect older structures as new development comes in.

“Sedona is quickly growing and developing and it’s beginning to look like something people who have lived here for a long, long time don’t recognize,” Commissioner Linda Yee said.

The City Council awarded the commission $15,000 at the beginning of this fiscal year to be used to provide incentives for owners of historic structures to keep them up.

And Yee wants to give all $15,000 away this year.

“Our intent is to use that money,” Yee said. “Let’s spend it. We don’t want to have any money left over.”

In other communities, Yee said, property tax is often waived as an incentive, but Sedona doesn’t have this tax.

So, the commission had to come up with a different idea.

The Small Grants Program, developed by Yee and Commission Vice President Ron Maassan, is money that can be used improve the exterior of a structure.

This includes, but is not limited to, rehabilitation, repair or restoration of the roof, windows, doors, siding, porches, foundation, chimneys and the reversal of inappropriate remodeling of the original architecture based on historic documentation.

“The old structures need to be repaired if they’re falling apart,” Yee said.

Eligibility for funding is evaluated based on four factors.  Does the work meet the secretary of interior’s standards for the treatment of historic structures? Will the proposed work include critical exterior improvements, maintenance or repair improving the visual appearance? Is the property landmarked or in the process of being and will the applicant match 50 percent of the funds?

Landmarked structures will receive precedent, Yee said, which she hopes will bring that number up.

“It’s a subtle way to encourage people to have their home landmarked,” Yee said.

Currently, there are 13 properties in Sedona that are landmarked, Yee said, and at least 80 that are eligible.

Historic landmarking means the outside of the structure  cannot be changed.

According to Yee, hesitation to pursue designation is often fueled by the fact that the restrictions placed on the structure remain even if it is sold.

Historic designation in Sedona is difficult, Yee said, because there aren’t distinct districts where older structures are located. They are scattered across the area making historic designation of a specific district impossible.

Another stipulation on the distribution of funds is the applicant must agree to match funds in excess of 50 percent.

Structures should also be at least 50 to 60 years old, Yee said, and the applicant must show it has historical         significance.

Yee said she understands change will happen — that’s progress — but she wants to help owners of historic structures save what they have.

“If these owners need help financially,” Yee said, “it will be available.”

This is the first year for the grant program, and its continuation depends on council’s willingness to provide funding.

“This is just the beginning,” Yee said. “Who knows where this will go if we get additional funding?”

Applications for this year are due Friday, Dec. 1, and will be reviewed within 45 days by the commission. Applicants are eligible for $1,000 to $5,000.

Applications are available at the city’s Community Development office.

For more information, call Kathy Levin at 203-5035.


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