Thursday, October 1, 2009

Historic Preservation & Smart Growth

One of the issues Charleston, SC, is facing as the City revisits its comprehensive plan is how to account for historic preservation.  Even as land use experts consider the virtues of "smart growth" as opposed to Euclidean, or single-use, zoning, it is unclear at this time how this new zoning form will mesh with existing historic preservation law, or how to balance it with economic development.  Concensus is emerging that "smart codes" can be tailored to account for special concerns of height, scale, and mass--an issue of great importance to historic preservation constituencies because of the need to preserve historic context.  Some of the criteria used to evaluate context--each highly subjective--include the overall atmosphere, look, and feel of the place.  Please let us know if you are aware of successful attempts to incorporate smart growth principles in historic preservation communities.  I'll be sharing with you the results of the research we're doing here in upcoming posts.  On another, but related, issue, take a look at the report commissioned by the Coastal Conservation League, entitled "A New Way To Work."  Although the report doesn't address historic preservation specifically, it provides a clear idea for one way forward to help combat the effects of sprawl.  See also a short piece in the Preservation Society of Charleston's quarterly magazine, Preservation Progress from Spring 2009:  "The Impact of Interstates on Historic Preservation Law."   

Will Cook, Charleston School of Law

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