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Summit County Ordinance Hopes To Simplify Preservation Of Historic Buildings

Summit County

Summit County’s long-time Historian, Navee Vernon, just retired.

Development Director, Pat Putt, meanwhile, says they’re just starting with a new ordinance to preserve historic buildings—a process that, hopefully, he says, will be predictable.

During his regular report to KPCW, Putt said there are likely hundreds of old buildings on the East Side of the county and the Snyderville Basin.

He said there are about 25 that have some official designations as Historic.

“There’s some real notable ones,” Putt said. “The Kimball Stage Stop on the Bittner property is one of those, Hi-Ute is one of those. The Wallin barn and house by the Swaner Nature preserve is another. The historic Hoyt Mansion in Hoytsville is one and then a number of them in the Echo area along the old Lincoln Highway and Echo Canyons.”

In order to preserve the older buildings, he said planning Staffer Ray Milliner recently formulated an ordinance, for both sides of the county, that allows for adaptive re-use.

Under that process, after Planning Commissioners vote that a structure has historic significance, they will approve a Conditional Use Permit, which governs the treatment of the building.

“The outcome of that conditional use permit addition to the use being allowed in the structure it comes with it a requirement that restrictive covenant, what we call a façade easement, is executed and recorded,” Putt explained. “That gives specifics about how the building is to be modified or changed or rehabilitated and typically prohibits demolition of those structures.”

Putt said there is bad news and also good news to report about the current situation.

“The downside of the story is right now we do not have an absolute prohibition on the demolition of buildings including historic buildings,” Putt continued. “The good news is that, by and large, people have been doing the right thing. We haven’t had any requests, to my knowledge in the time I’ve been here six year, of anybody demolishing any historic structures. Certainly, none of the ones that have been identified. Those two dozen that I’ve talked about.”

A recent approval for an adaptive re-use was the old Archibald-Pace General Store building, which will be revamped to serve as a coffee shop along Highway 224 for the Park City Nursery.

However, Putt said the current approval stipulates that if building or safety codes require that the General Store be disassembled—that is, “panelized”—it has to go back to the Snyderville Commission.

“It’s not as though we shouldn’t consider panelization,” Putt said. “There’s an old saying ‘it’s too late to go home early.’ Well the minute you get to a point where you take a historic structure apart, and the ones we have are really really old. They’ve been left to the elements for a number of years and certainly were never constructed to contemporary building code standards. The minute you open these things up and start taking them apart the likelihood of something wrong happening increases exponentially. It’s the loss of really important—the preservationists call it—historic fabric. We start losing or damaging key pieces to these buildings. Often times when that happens you end up in a situation where you’re not restoring a building or rehabilitating a building, you’re replicating a building.”

Putt added they don’t want the public to be surprised by what they see happening to historic buildings.

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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