Letter: City shouldn’t have fee for historic designation

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 5, 2021

We would like to challenge the imposing of a fee for those who would apply for Salisbury’s Historic Landmark designation for their property.

As a draw to visitors, Salisbury presents itself as a historic city, with many structures dating back years. In making applications for Historic Landmark designations, the property owner not only does the work of researching and preparing the application, which took us two years, but he or she assumes all costs involved — obtaining a detailed and architecturally correct description of the property, for example.

If approved, the property owner then assumes full responsibility for all costs involved in maintaining the property according to standards set by the city — standards which require the use of historically correct materials, including wood versus synthetics. An owner who fails in this can be penalized — from fines to forfeiture of the designation.

The Historic Landmark designation does carry with it a 50% reduction in property taxes, but this doesn’t go far when doing the required maintenance. Our home is wood. So, it must be painted more often. This will be done in 2022 at a cost of $40,000. If we are granted the designation, reduction in property taxes for 2022 is less than $1,000. This is likely with others who would consider applying for Historic Landmark designation.

Given the benefit of historic homes to the city of Salisbury and that maintenance costs are primarily borne by the owner, it would seem counter productive that the city would discourage applicants by imposing a fee for applying.

— Gene Goetz