ADVOCACY ALERT:  Michigan’s Historic Resources in Jeopardy with HB 5232 and SB 720

Dear Michigan Arts and Cultural Advocates:

Creative Many Michigan is joining with the Michigan Historic Preservation Network to urge your immediate action regarding recent bills introduced in the Michigan Legislature.  This week, Rep. Chris Afendoulis, R-Grand Rapids and Sen. Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford introduced legislation into the Local Government Committees of the Michigan House and Senate.  House Bill 5232 and Senate Bill 720 pose serious detrimental impacts to historic resources and local historic districts through proposed amendments to Michigan’s Local Historic Districts Act, PA 169 of 1970.

Help us by letting your legislators know that these amendments to PA 169 of 1970 will jeopardize protection for Michigan’s historic resources. Highlights of the proposed changes include:

1.  Diminishes the authority of local historic district commissions to protect historic resources in local communities from insensitive development, inappropriate alterations and demolition.  Local historic districts are a critical resource for communities desiring to protect and preserve their historic resources.

2.  Requires majority property owner consent before a historic resource could be placed under study in the case of pending development or demolition threats.  In the case of a single property, only the sole owner would have to be in agreement.  Current state law allows local jurisdictions to choose to pass a moratorium for 6 months to allow for study and consideration of potential threat to a historic resource that may not have been identified, surveyed or designated and can help a community save an important asset.

3.  Requires 2/3 majority support petition of property owners before a study committee could be appointed, placing an undue burden on communities seeking to establish local historic district ordinances and eliminates eligibility for federal historic preservation grant funds through the Certified Local Government program, one of the VERY few programs providing such support. Current district establishment processes provide for community engagement and public hearings to ensure that the community perspectives are part of local government’s decision-making.

4.  Dismisses nationally accepted and approved Standards and Guidelines to guide local historic district commission decisions and allows for unspecified “other standards” to be considered when making decisions regarding historic resources.

5.  Requires local legislative body to vote to reinstate every local historic district, even those with long-standing status, every 10 years.  This would place undue burden and increased costs on local communities and create confusion in communities with multiple historic districts.

6. Allows local legislative bodies to eliminate local historic districts without guidelines or justification, and without community input.

7.  Transfers responsibility for the hearing of appeals to the local level, where political and development pressures may impact outcomes, from the impartial reviews currently provided by the State Historic Preservation Review Board, whose members are appointed by the Governor of Michigan.

For more information regarding these bills and to access the Michigan Historic Preservation Network’s position statement and sample letters to use in contacting your legislators visit www.mhpn.org.
Thank you for your support in helping to protect and preserve Michigan’s historic resources in communities statewide.

Best regards,

Jennifer H. Goulet, President and CEO
Creative Many Michigan
Creative Many Michigan is the statewide organization leading advocacy for the arts, culture and creative and design industries — the creative economy — in Michigan.  Our mission is to develop creative people, creative places and the creative economy for a competitive Michigan through research, advocacy, professional practice and communications.  Visit us at www.creativemany.org for more information on our statewide work and how you can get involved.