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August 29, 2013

Proposed historic district divides community


She added that many people believe it raises property values and there are tax credits that private property owners and business owners can take advantage of.

The Tax Reform Act of 1986 allows a 20 percent federal tax credit for the substantial rehabilitation of income-producing historic properties. Work must meet federal preservation standards.

The state legislature also provides an additional state tax credit for income-producing properties and for rehabilitating owner-occupied homes in eligible census tracts. The homeowner’s tax credit program provides 20 percent of qualified expenditures up to $50,000 (there is a minimum of $5,000). More information can be found at

Some community members said they do not see any negatives with being listed while others said they feared the unknowns that might come down the road. On more than one occasion people said they “did not want to become Cooperstown.”

LaFrank said some communities, such as Cooperstown, have their own ordinances that place restrictions on private property owners, but that has no relation to being registered.

“I do not promote it, especially in rural areas, because I have found people don’t like to be told what to do,” she said.

Ken Ostrander is a resident who said he is afraid of the unknowns. He said the board can change hands and possibly institute some kind of historic district ordinance that would change local laws.

Town board member Bill Freeland said he feels people in the community are being misled.

“The primary issue we’re having is not so much about the effect of the historic district itself, but the methodology to adopt the historic district. What I am against is the discriminatory voting process (There are different criteria for a yes and no vote) ... It is about the registration process, which is highly flawed.” he said.

Informational letters from SHPO to property owners in the proposed historic district were mailed in late July, and so far, LaFrank said, she has received two letters of objection. A handful of people attending the meeting said they did not receive a letter. Even more people were upset that those against the project are required to send back a notarized objection letter while those that take no action will be considered as a yes vote.

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