Recently I attended a meeting of the Loveland Historic Preservation Design Review Committee (HPDRC). This is a new city council approved committee that is tasked with drawing the boundaries for what is to become the codified historic district for the City of Loveland. So, why did I attend this latest meeting, and how is this group’s actions important to the people who live, work, and play in Loveland?
Let me first answer the question to why I decided to attend the HPDRC meeting on September 26th. Being a resident of Loveland, I was very curious on how this particular group of people decided what should be considered historic, and therefore afforded certain governmental privileges due to the recent addition of Loveland into the Certified Local Governments (CLG) program. My curiosity was also peaked because at the meeting where the committee drew the historic boundaries, longtime council member, former Mayor, and current Vice-Mayor Robert Weisgerber was in attendance and addressed the the HPDRC. What the Vice Mayor said is not known because the meeting minutes did not include his comments (minutes to the July 25th HPDRC are included in the Agenda packet for the August 22nd meeting). What we do know is that Vice Mayor Weisgerber did speak, and his house is included within the historic boundaries. Anytime an elected official speaks at a meeting and their comments are not recorded for public viewing, my curiosity starts to peak. That is why I attended the September meeting of the HPDRC, I wanted to know how the committee decided on these particular boundaries for Loveland’s soon to be historic district.
Now let’s answer the second question, why should we care. One needs to understand what the benefit of having property in a historic boundary created under the CLG program. The one benefit I want to highlight today is the economic advantage of owning property inside a historic district. It only takes a quick Google search to see that having property in a historic district makes that property more valuable. Even Loveland’s HPDRC acknowledges that they want to create the protected historic boundaries “To stabilize and improve property values” (from the agenda packet of the September 26th HPDRC meeting). Again what we know is that Vice Mayor Wesigerber attended the meeting where the boundaries for the historic district were decided, the Vice Mayor spoke at the meeting, the Vice Mayor’s home is included within the boundaries, and being a part of a historic district is economically beneficial to property owners. Anytime an elected official benefits from a program that does not serve the entire community, every taxpaying voter should be asking questions.
So, how did the HPDRC answer my question on how they decided what should be the Loveland Historic District?
I will say the committee was generous with their time and attempted to answer my questions, specifically what Vice Mayor Weisgerber said at the meeting and why his home was in the historic district. The answer I was given was that the Vice Mayor did not advocate for the inclusion of his property, he just gave perspective on what areas of the proposed historic district could be marked for future development. The committee said they decided on the boundaries by using the Little Miami River and the O’Bannon Creek as natural boundaries. The Vice Mayor’s home just happened to be within those confines.
After considering the answers given by the HPDRC, my curiosity is growing.
The first new question I have is why would a committee that was created to preserve historic buildings, things built by people, use a natural formation to make their boundaries? The majority of older buildings are on both sides of the Little Miami River. The architecture is very similar on East and West Loveland Avenue. Even the Little Miami River Chamber Alliance, who uses property on the proposed non historic side of the river, refers to their area as the “West Loveland Historic District”. Even the Loveland Historic Society sits on the wrong side of the historic boundary. Using natural borders for a district made up of non-natural structures makes zero sense. Why was the other side of the river not included?
As for Vice Mayor Weisgerber’s home being included in the historic boundaries. By not having a record of what the Vice Mayor said at the meeting where the HPDRC drew the historic boundaries, friends and foes will make their own assumptions to why the Vice Mayor gets the economic privilege of having his personal property included in this government created protected area. No amount of scorn and disdain will silence the curious taxpayer.
The last, and in my opinion most important question that needs to be answered and will shine a light on the purpose of the HPDRC. Is the purpose of these boundaries to preserve or is the purpose of the boundaries to allow the city government to be the primary entity in determining how the private property in the historic district will be developed?
Preserve or develop, that is the question. What we know right now, with the information available to the public, is that the government of Loveland will decide on the city’s new historic look.
RD Kulik is a resident of the City of Loveland and the editor at The Loveland Tattler. As of right now, the city council has not scheduled a vote on the historic boundaries. Stay tuned to this space for all of the updates you crave.
Hit RD up on twitter @TattlerLoveland or email him email@example.com.