100 signatures reached
To: The Virginia State Legislature
Support Proposed legislation for Virginia Historic Preservation!!
We, the undersigned residents of Virginia, hereby petition the Virginia General Assembly to approve changes in the Virginia Historic Preservation law (Section 15.2-2306 of the Code of Virginia) as written in Senate Bill No. 206 and House Bill No. 1210, that would if passed into law:
1. Stop demolition of nominated historic sites until the local government with input from local residents and historians has completed its review and decision whether to designate a nominated site; and
2. Allow local residents and historians who nominate a historic site to have access to court review of locality decision to ensure that the state law is followed.
We believe that important historic houses, sites, buildings, landmarks and areas should be preserved throughout the state and that our current State of Virginia Historic Peservation law is not, at present, operating as originally intended, about 50 years after enactment. Bulldozers are allowed to move into demolish nominated sites before the local historic review process is completed. Local residents and historic advocates have no access to ask for court review; only the property owner has such rights, creating an unfair system of justice.
We believe that local governments must have the time to consider and approve or disapprove historic designation of a site or building or landmark and during that time no demolition or destruction of the nominated site, building, location, or landmark should be allowed. Further, under current state law, petitioners and advocates for historic preservation have no right to seek court review of a locality decision to deny historic protection as to whether this decision violated the state law. Therefore the state law which was enacted over 50 years ago must be changed to allow petitioners for local historic protection the same access to the courts as only the property owner has today.
Historic properties have been nominated for historic protection, and under current law, the owner is allowed to completely destroy the property before the locality can complete its historic review, and before the public in the locality can have its input on the process and the final decision, as has actually recently occurred in high profile situations under the current state law.
A recent example was the Febrey-Lothrop-Rouse 9.5 acre estate, a large, historic, architecturally significant, pre-Civil War house, a secondary home, and several outbuildings in Arlington that were all demolished just three weeks before the public hearing and determination of local historic district designation by the Arlington County Board. The Board then denied local protection. A local historic preservation advocate subsequently filed for a court review of the decision, and was dismissed from court because only the owner of the nominated historic site has access to Virginia courts. Historians and community advocates thus have no access to courts to make sure that the locality follows the state law in a fair and equitable manner.
This petition with a listing of its signers will be delivered to the patrons of the legislative initiatives, Senator Chap Petersen (Fairfax) and Delegate Patrick Hope (Arlington). Signers may also email their own Virginia delegate and senator directly if they so choose (find your Virginia state legislator and email here https://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov/)
Why is this important?
This proposed change to Virginia State Law would prevent an owner from demolishing a property nominated and under review for local historic district designation until the review process is final and fully completed, and would allow any citizen access to the courts for purpose of appeal of any decision made by the locality regarding local historic district designation nomination. If approved and enacted, this change to Virginia State Preservation Law would prevent future situations such as the disastrous destruction and permanent, total loss of the historic, pre-Civil War Febrey-Lothrop-Rouse mansion and estate, and the similar total loss of the fully restored historic Fellows-McGrath 1889 Victorian home, both in 2021 in Arlington.
How it will be delivered
email and press conference