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Northport Village adopts historic preservation rule

Northport Village officials voted last night to adopt a historic preservation ordinance in an effort to retain the village's heritage and character.

The measure applies to houses at least 100 years old. The vote was 4 to 1, with Trustee Tom Kehoe casting the negative vote.

It requires a property owner seeking a permit for exterior improvements, such as a porch, to undergo a review by the village's Board of Architectural and Historic Review. That board will examine the building's historic status and determine if the property is on any town, state, county or federal landmark register.

If that structure is found to have historic value, the board will work with the owner to make sure the changes are in keeping with the building's historic nature. A dissatisfied property owner can appeal to the village board.

The ordinance does not apply to such work as painting or modernization of doors and windows. Substitutes for original materials, such as vinyl siding, will be permitted if they maintain the historic appearance and character.

"The idea of this law is not to prevent people from making changes," Trustee Henry Tobin said. "The idea is to ensure that the changes that are made are consistent with historical aspects of the house."

One opponent of the measure, Bill Friedman, said that he felt that residents "have been misled."

Of the review process, resident Leah Fink said: "It's difficult enough to get the two people who live in the house to agree. It will be even harder adding one or two more committees to try and agree on something."

Tobin said a few hundred buildings will be affected. They were identified in a building inventory in the late 1970s.

The measure provides for a partial tax exemption on any increased value for improvements to a building found to have historic value. The exemption would last for five years and then fade out during the next five.

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