Members of York City Council discussed a proposal Tuesday that would create a permit for work on historic buildings and add a penalty for work done without approval.

Councilman Cameron Texter drafted the proposed changes to the city's Historic York law, which includes the operation of the Historical Architectural Review Board.

The bill would "ensure that the City of York may continue to protect its historical properties, which exist as one of York's greatest resources and assets," Texter, who could not attend Tuesday's committee meeting, wrote in a memo.

Among many changes, the bill would:

  • create a HARB permit. State changes eliminated requirements for building permits, which used to trigger HARB reviews, for many projects, according to the memo. Creating the HARB permit would ensure projects at historical properties are still reviewed.

  • establish a penalty, minimum $100 for the first offense, for doing work on historic properties without approval.

  • increase the number of board members from seven to nine, including four that must live, own property or have business interests in the city. The members must include an architect, a real estate broker, a building inspector and someone recommended by the York County Heritage Trust, and the other five members must meet local, state and federal guidelines for HARB membership.

    The changes regarding board members drew some concern at the meeting.

    Joan Burgasser, a member of HARB who spoke on her own behalf, said she thinks a majority of the board should be city residents.


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    "My only concern is if you do not have a majority of York residents, you will have less support in the community to agree with a HARB decision," she said.

    Gayle Mathys, a real estate broker who serves on HARB, said the proposed law wouldn't limit the number of city residents. Ideally, she said, all nine would live in the city.

    But if city residents meeting the qualifications can't be found to serve, "we have to have flexibility to choose experience and that needs to be the number one factor," she said.

    Council President Joe Musso asked Dave Redshaw, chairman of HARB, for his opinion on the proposed penalty.

    "I believe it would give the city the strength to enforce some semblance of historic preservation throughout the historic district," Redshaw said.

    amason@ydr.com; 771-2048

    Online

    To read the proposed changes to laws related to the Historical Architectural Review Board, visit www.yorkcity.org. Click on city council, then committee information and calendars. The bill will appear on the calendar for the Dec. 8 meeting.

    Council will consider the bill Dec. 15. A majority of HARB members voted to support the proposal.

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