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Commissioners punt landmark decision

Posted: February 16, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 16, 2011 1:55 a.m.
 

After a lengthy discussion, the Santa Clarita Planning Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to continue discussion on whether to give more than two dozen local properties historic landmark status.

The amended ordinance before commissioners proposed 27 Newhall buildings for consideration as local historical landmarks.

Several concerned residents, including people who own some of the proposed historic landmarks, expressed their fears regarding how such a law would impact their private property rights and were skeptical about city staff’s level of expertise in designating historical landmarks.

“This gets into the realm of taking someone’s house, someone’s business, someone’s church. ... The economic impact of this project is going to make the property worth less,” said TimBen Boydston, executive director of the Canyon Theater Guild, one of the 27 properties deemed eligible for historic preservation.

Under the ordinance, owners of these properties would be subject to specific construction guidelines to ensure that the structure’s historic nature is preserved and could also be eligible for state property tax breaks.

Frank Maga, owner of a Newhall property that houses El Trocadero Restaurant and the Repertory East Playhouse, said he was relieved city staff and community members would have more time to mull over the proposed ordinance.

Since 2008, city planners have narrowed the list of potential landmarks from 45 properties to 27. Most of the properties are located in the Newhall redevelopment zone, and were selected as prospective landmarks based on their historic architectural style or their role in local historical events.

City staff will review suggestions from planning commissioners and community members to add an opt-out clause for property owners of historic landmarks under the ordinance, said Jeff Hogan, the city’s acting planning manager.

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