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On January 26, Rep Chris Afendoulis, R-Grand Rapids, and Sen. Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford introduced identical bills which were referred to the Local Government Committees of the House and Senate. HB 5232 and SB 720 will have a detrimental impact on historic resources and local historic districts through proposed amendments to Michigan Local Historic District Act, PA 169 of 1970. The bills jeopardize protection for Michigan Historic resources.

This legislation would have a huge impact on Michigan Communities. Local Historic Districts are the ONLY way for a community to protect areas of historic significance from insensitive development, inappropriate alterations, and demolition.

Redevelopment should be done in honest and fair terms while weighing the impact that it can have on our Historic Districts. The bills not only aim to eliminate Michigan Historic districts over time, but would require that local legislative bodies vote to reinstate each district, even those long-standing, every 10 years.

One of the problems with this legislation is that community landmarks would be made vulnerable when there is a sudden need for development or demolition. The legislation requires a 2/3 majority support of petition from property owners before the local historic district would even be placed under a study committee for review. Once this occurs it would eliminate grant funds that are available for preservation. This would create a tremendous burden on communities that are trying to establish local districts.

Another area of concern is that the appeal process would only be heard through local level where political and development pressures could affect the outcome rather than at a neutral, state board of appeals.

The whole process would be a dismissal of nationwide standards and guidelines that historic commissioners utilize to base their review upon and it would deliberately leave the current process open interpretation. You can find out more information about the bills here.

Take Action: Voice opposition to HB 5232 and SB 720 by contacting  your local representatives and senators.

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