Newport updates its historic preservation ordinances; paves way for Buena Vista historic district

Haley Parnell
Haley Parnell
Haley is a reporter for LINK nky. Email her at [email protected]

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Newport has approved the enabling ordinance for all of the historic preservation activities within the city.

Newport Planning and Building Director Brian Steffen said conversations began earlier in the year as the city started looking into creating Buena Vista as a local historic district. Steffen said working with Assistant Newport City Manager John Hayden and Newport City Manager Tom Fromme; they found concerns enough to slow the designation of the local historic district.

Steffen said most of the changes are housekeeping items comporting to state statutes and the certified local government program, Kentucky Heritage Council. He said the most significant change is the inclusion of the planning and zoning commission into the process, which then creates an overlay onto the city’s zoning maps and creates the recorded land use restriction with the county.

The Newport Historic Preservation Commission will hear the Buena Vista case at its meeting on Oct. 25. Subsequently, a special call planning and zoning commission meeting will be held on Nov. 7 should Buena Vista be approved at the Oct. 25 meeting.

Buena Vista consists of the areas between the north end of West 8th Street, the south part of West 12th Street, the west ends of Brighton and Lowell Streets, and the east side of Putnam and York Streets.

Newport Commissioner Mike Radwanski said an important piece of the law is allowing those who live in a historic district to make minor touch-ups without having to seek permission.

“I think my favorite thing about this is that no matter where you live in a historic district, if you’ve got spalling paint on a wooden surface, it’s already painted that you don’t need to get another Certificate of Appropriateness. You can just touch up that paint. That’s huge as a homeowner to be able to have a quick response time,” Radwanski said.

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Steffen said the city has done a lot to bring historic preservation into the building permit process.

“We’ve put them all online now we’ve added staff to it, we’ve tried to reduce the amount of wait time for COAs,” he said. “Simple maintenance and repair if you just need to touch up your paint; that’s not an issue for a COA.”

As for the guidelines for each historic district, Steffen said a review of the current guidelines for East Row and York Street is currently underway. If Buena Vista moves forward, he said they will meet at the beginning of October to adopt national guidelines as a “stopgap” to allow time for public input on the guidelines.

Newport Commissioner Ken Rechtin said if they could have guidelines that pertain to all districts, that would be ideal to keep things as simple as possible.

“This gives a strong foundation,” Newport Mayor Tom Guidugli Jr. said. “This thing was built with cobblestones by everybody putting in a stone over all the years, but this stabilizes it and places it in a strong position to move forward. This entire board and this board for decades has believed in historic preservation, and it’s yielded great results. Figuring out how to include the other communities, including the west end, is critical.”

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