Boulder City Council Provides Input on Historic Preservation Plan

In 2012 the City received a grant to create a historic preservation plan, although Boulder has had a variety of historic preservation regulations in place for many years. City staff and the Landmark Board’s goals are to create a plan with streamlined regulations that are user-friendly yet preserve Boulder’s unique historical places.

Owners of historic buildings in Boulder are eligible for 14 different incentives, including tax credits, building code exemptions and grants. According to a staff report, Boulder ranks second only to Denver in the number of tax state credit projects reviewed and completed for buildings deemed historic.

However, the Landmark Board and Council are now struggling to create a current definition of historic. Boulder has many homes approaching 50-year-old trigger that requires a mandatory review of any demolition permit for homes. The neighborhood most often given as an example is Martin Acres in South Boulder, a large subdivision comprised of box-like post-World War II homes. The draft plan designates Martin Acres and other similar neighborhoods as a significant part of the City’s character. If this is so, then how should the City deal with requests to demolish or significantly change these properties?

The City Council had no definitive answer to this question and advised caution in moving forward with the plan because of the large number of homes that could be affected by it and the lack of consensus on this issue.  Council is scheduled to review and approve the Historic Preservation Plan this fall. Note: This is a question that is generating discussion in other communities as well. Fort Collins is currently updating its historic preservation regulations and grappling with the same issue. A comparison of municipal historic preservation regulations in Colorado and elsewhere is available here: https://bouldercolorado.gov/links/fetch/10766.

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