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Poughkeepsie hoping to approve revised historic ordinance

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Albany/HV: Poughkeepsie hoping to approve revised historic ordinance
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Poughkeepsie's Common Council plans to approve a revamped historic ordinance on Monday that it says will preserve Civil War era homes while balancing owners’ interests. YNN's John Wagner has the details.

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. -- "It’s the old homes of Poughkeepsie that help give it its charm,” said Dough Nobiletti of Academy Street Area Partnership. “It's what people comment on."

Poughkeepsie's original historic ordinance dates back to 1978, but like the homes it hopes to preserve, it's old, outdated and not up to state protocol. In order to gain approval and funding through New York's historic preservation office, the city's boosting its program and hoping to boost property values and perceptions at the same time.

Nobiletti said, "Allows people to come here and look in awe and wonder and say this is a great place and at one point, it certainly had been. Now we're trying to overcome these perceptions that it no longer is."

Around 115 homes, many built before the Civil War, have historic designations and with that, renovation restrictions. The Common Council plans to rebuild those Monday, adding in financial help for owners.

For owners denied permission to repair or demolish their homes, the ordinance adds an appeals process. And if they can prove economic hardship, the Historic Preservation Commission would then be allowed to issue permits.

"We should not be the one dictating to them what they can and cannot afford. We want to work with homeowners, we want to work with developers and we want to restore and maintain our historic properties in the city," Poughkeepsie Mayor John Tkazyik said.

Owners say these measures will help, as long as the appeals process is not abused.

"It has to be a true hardship and the remediating measures shouldn't be so drastic that it destroys the house," said Nobiletti.

"It’s that balance between the discretion, between the protection of the district through the commission and the rights of the property owner with the appeals process to the common council that makes this law better," said Paul Ackermann, a member of the City of Poughkeepsie Corporation Counsel.

If passed, grants would become available to teach owners how to deal with and manage really old homes.

"We lease them for the period we live in them and then we sell that lease to someone else,” Nobiletti said. “You can't take it with you. It's here for the future and the future generations need to enjoy and see what a quality craftsman house is about."

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