City Marks 25 Years of Benefits from Preservation Ordinance

Article excerpt

The Historic Preservation and Landmark Ordinance written by Oklahoma City's Historic Preservation Commission was adopted by the city council 25 years ago today.

The commission was appointed in 1967, and at that time, the group began writing the ordinance, said Capt. Charles C. Coley, an original member of the commission who has remained active on the board since 1967.

Heritage Hills was the first neighborhood to petition for historical preservation status, he said, and the community received it in December 1969.

"We had three neighborhood organizations down here (before Heritage Hills) and we combined them. We would take one step forward and get pushed back two steps. Business was really encroaching on the area," Coley said.

"We petitioned the city to consider the historical aspect of the area. The city put out a brochure in 1967 which supported it. They realized, or they said that if they didn't do something about it, it would become an area that would become a blighted area where we could have lost a lot of the history of the city of Oklahoma City," Coley said.

"I know on 14th St. we had somewhere from seven to 10 homes that were rescued from the brink of destruction. Not only that, the other districts like Crown Heights, Edgemere Park and Putnam Heights, those neighborhoods saw what was happening down here in Heritage Hills and petitioned the Historical Preservation Commission for historical preservation status," Coley said.

"Not just the areas have benefited, but I think the whole city has benefited," he said.

Purpose of the Historical Preservation and Landmark Ordinance, as listed in the ordinance, says:

"The City of Oklahoma City hereby declares that the historical, architectural, cultural and aesthetic features of the city represent some of the finest and most valuable resources of the city, and such resources are the embodiment of the heritage of the people of Oklahoma City. Therefore, it is hereby declared that the purpose of this ordinance, to be known as the Historical Preservation and Landmark Ordinance, shall be as follows: "To promote the creation of historic districts and landmarks for the educational, cultural, economic and general welfare of the public through the preservation, protection and regulation of buildings, sites, monuments, structures and areas of historic interest or importance within the city of Oklahoma City; "To safeguard the heritage of the city by preserving and regulating historic landmarks and districts which reflect elements of its cultural, social, political and architectural history; "To preserve and enhance the environmental quality of neighborhoods; "To strengthen the city's economic base by the stimulation of conservation and reuse; "To establish and preserve property values; "To foster economic development; "To ensure the harmonious, orderly and efficient growth and development of the municipality; "To promote the use of historical landmarks and districts for the culture, prosperity, education and welfare of the people of the city and visitors to the city; And "to establish a preservation plan to accomplish the goal of this section."

The commission meets once a month and is comprised of an attorney, a real estate person, an architect, a member of the Oklahoma City Planning Commission and six others from different sections of the city, Coley said. Commissioners are approved by the Oklahoma City Council.

Homeowners wanting to make changes to the exterior of their houses must be approved for a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Historical Preservation Commission.

"This is designed so that you maintain the appearance of the houses as nearly as possible as they were in the day the houses were built, and this includes the streets and everything else," Coley said. …