EASTON, PA – Several years ago, Easton residents were confronted with the prospect of a development project that involved demolishing a number of century-old homes on College Hill. Asked how to avoid this type of thing in the future, Mayor Panto suggested that forming historic districts, like the Downtown National Register Historic District, were probably the best solution. Community members took the Mayor at his word: they formed a committee, and at the Easton Planning Commission meeting on March 4 they will unveil the first specific result of their work, the proposed West Ward Historic Conservation District Ordinance.
Historic Conservation Districts (HCDs) are similar to National Register Historic Districts in that they are intended primarily to preserve the quality of life in neighborhoods by protecting historic buildings and affordable housing, promoting good design of new and existing structures, and encouraging adaptive reuse. But there is one important difference: HCDs are written and controlled entirely on the local level: red tape and construction requirements and construction costs are reduced compared to Federally-guided National Register districts, and standards are created by and for the people who will use them rather than Washington, DC. HCDs have been successfully in place for years in cities like Bethlehem, Lancaster, Pottstown, and Pittsburgh.
There are two ways to learn more about this exciting concept. First, go to the HCD Committee’s website: www.eastonconservationdistricts.com. Read the information on the site, and click on the draft ordinance page.
Second: attend the Easton Planning Commission meeting: 6:30 pm, Wednesday, March 4, 2020, at City Hall. Not only will the West Ward Historic Conservation District Ordinance be introduced, there will also be further discussion of the proposed city-wide changes to the Easton Zoning Ordinance.
Your comments and suggestions are welcome both on the website and at the Planning Commission meeting.