2017 Legislative Report
The Good, The Bad, The Should We Be Mad?
Fully recovered and moving on from this year’s legislative session, we wanted to take a quick look back at what happened and relay the outcomes. We’re most pleased that issues of historic preservation and heritage were not the most prominent items on the docket this year. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t get worthwhile attention. So we have mixed emotions about how things turned out.
LET"S TAKE THE GOOD NEWS FIRST.
Historic buildings at the Utah State Fairpark will not be demolished. The new $32mm building proposed by the Department of Agriculture and Food was not funded. Its determined site would have been on top of the existing c. 1920 Administration Building and the former DMV Testing Facility (1967; John Sugden, Architect).
The historic Rockville Bridge will be rehabilitated. Due to some fortunate timing for a legislative request, the Town of Rockville (population 247) will be appropriated $100,000 in order to match $70,000 of private funds raised by the town. Great work by Rep. Bradley Last and Mayor Pam Leach on the effort. Work is set to begin in the fall.
Dedication of the Spring City School will be taking place onMay 26th. After more than twenty years of continuous work, the historic Spring City School (1905; Richard C. Watkins, Architect) is completed and will open as the new city hall for the town. The legislative appropriation effort led by Sen. Ralph Okerlund and the Friends of Historic Spring City secured the last needed funding to wrap up the project financially.
NOW FOR THE BAD.
HB 30 will make local preservation efforts more difficult. The most detrimental bill to local historic preservation efforts was the passage of House Bill 30. This new language in state code requires modification of the appeals process in municipalities that give historic preservation commissions authority to make land use decisions on real property. Appeals now must go to an elected official or officials for a decision rather than a hearing officer or appeals board. Preservation Utah made comment at the two public hearings and information was provided to committee members and the bill sponsor throughout the process.
A substitute bill made on Senate floor added requirement that if an ordinance does not expressly state that something is prohibited (like a type of window, or size of addition), it will be allowed. This amendment was made after all opportunities for public comment had been completed, thus Preservation Utah was never able to discuss this provision with the bill sponsors – Rep. Curt Webb (Logan) and Sen. Daniel Thatcher. Implementation of this bill will be difficult for the municipalities that have design review as part of their preservation ordinance, and will dissuade new communities from considering adding design review to their ordinance.
Renovation of Lindquist Hall at WSU will significantly alter its original design. Weber State University was appropriated $30mm for a renovation of Lindquist Hall (1972) that will render the building no longer eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. We will seek that WSU go through the state’s historic review process with the Utah Division of State History to appropriately mitigate the loss.
A handful of issues also took place without warranting our advocacy including HCR 14, Recognizing the U.S. and Utah’s Participation in World War I Centennial Commission; HB 188, Local Historic District Amendments; HB 63, Hole in the Rock State Park; and unfulfilled appropriations requests for the Utah Ethnic & Mining Museum and Western Hellenic Library in Magna, and a new Utah State Courts building in Manti that threatened existing older structures that had not been formally considered in the process.
If you’d like to be involved in legislative issues in the future, please contact Kirk Huffaker at (801) 533-0858 ext. 105or [email protected].