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Owners decry historic listings

City: Property owners say designation would be hardship without benefit

Posted: February 20, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 20, 2011 1:55 a.m.

The old Newhall Jail, one of several sites recently considered for a historic-landmark designation, is next to a brand new library under construction on Spruce Street in downtown Newhall. The property’s owner, Manny Santana, said there were few advantages to having his lot placed on the list.

 

Michael Guglielmino fondly remembers summers spent working at the Newhall Hardware store in downtown Newhall.

His father, Don Guglielmino, opened the establishment in 1947 after purchasing the Main Street building.

But his father died 10 years ago, and Newhall Hardware closed three years ago.

While Guglielmino and his aging mother, Flora, are ready to say goodbye to the old store and its building — they have plans to sell it — the city might not be.

The buliding is on a list of 27 local properties under consideration for historic landmark status under Santa Clarita’s amended historic preservation ordinance.

And the family fears that the ordinance could prevent them from profiting from the sale as they’d hoped to.

“What that money represents is significant,” Guglielmino said. “My mother is 87 years old. ... She could use it in the years ahead.

“Any interest in the property has dried up completely,” Guglielmino said, adding that lowering the building’s sale price would be a considerable hardship for his mother.

He’s among several local property owners who expressed concerns at the Santa Clarita Planning Commission meeting Tuesday night regarding what they view as a burdensome amendment to the city’s historic preservation ordinance.

Such an ordinance would add red tape and possibly tie their hands when the owners want to renovate the buildings, they said.

The draft ordinance also proposed penalties for property owners who alter historic landmarks without the city’s consent.

The proposed penalties are as a 10-year building moratorium for demolished buildings. Residents took issue with the penalties, too.

And some property owners questioned the city’s current commitment to protecting the historic properties found within its borders.

Manny Santana owns the old Newhall Jail, a small stucco structure on Spruce Street that dates back to 1906.

He said he’s been keeping a close eye on the city’s construction of the new Newhall Library taking place several feet from the jail.

Santana doubted the city’s interest in protecting the historic building.

“There’s few advantages of belonging to a preservation list,” Santana said. “And (the city) wants me to protect (the jailhouse), but they’re not doing anything to protect it.”

After hearing from about a dozen concerned property owners and residents, the commissioners agreed to continue community discussion on the controversial ordinance.

This will likely include a workshop with proposed historic landmark property owners before the planning commission moves forward with the draft ordinance, said Jeff Hogan, the city’s acting planning manager.

Staff will also review the possibility of an opt-out clause and added incentives for these property owners under the new ordinance, Hogan said.

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