City council to address Yalecrest historic preservation debate

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The Salt Lake City Council will address property rights and historic preservation Wednesday night. The latest battleground, in what has become a perennial issue, is the Yalecrest neighborhood.

Three hundred fifty people packed a recent meeting on the topic, and comments have been flying back and forth via e-mail and on the Internet. At stake: not just individual homes, but the future of a neighborhood.

What is... the Yalecrest neighborhood?
Yalecrest is Salt Lake City's newest National Register-listed Historic District, formally receiving that designation in November 2007. The earliest Yalecrest residents began to appear in the 1870s as families farming five-acre plots. Beginning in the 1910s through the 1940s developers platted 22 subdivisions. The Period Revival styles built during this time reflected buildings returning WWI soldiers had seen overseas. —Utah Heritage Foundation

It's a hot issue in Yalecrest: old homes scraped off to make way for big new ones.

"There's a real concern in this neighborhood that beautiful historic homes are being demolished at an alarming rate; and once they're demolished, they're often replaced with mega-homes -- seven, eight, 9,000 square feet," says Jan Hemming.

Hemming supports designating Yalecrest a historic district, which would oversee alterations, demolitions and new construction in the neighborhood of 1,450 homes, located south of the University of Utah, much of it built in the 1920s.

Others oppose it, like Yalecrest resident Roger Little, who told KSL on the phone the move "will discourage young families who want to move in," making it harder to remodel. He calls it a "property rights issue" and worries about giving control of style and taste to a government board.

Salt Lake City Councilman J.T. Martin, who lives across the street from a home his grandparents built, says he's undecided.

"I don't know yet; and how we determine that, we are working hard in the council office to try to determine what the majority is, even going house to house," Martin says.

A fellow council member says the city won't use limited resources to create a historic district unless residents want it.

"We have a tool that can be used, but in using that tool you have to sacrifice your own personal property rights," says Councilwoman Jill Remington Love. "We're not going to impose this on any neighborhood. But if a neighborhood wants historic structures to be preserved, this is the tool we need to use."

The Salt Lake City Council plans to host discussions around the neighborhood in the coming weeks. The issue is on the agenda for a meeting Wednesday night at 6:30 at the Pingree School.



Yalecrest Historical District in a larger map


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