Historical home battle passes first test in Lake Worth

8:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017 Local
Lake Worth city commissioners unanimously updated the city’s Historic Preservation ordinance Tuesday night.

For years, hundreds of Lake Worth residents who own a designated historic home have been complaining to city officials about the problems they’ve had replacing doors, roofs and windows, saying applications took forever to be approved.

That could be changing.

After an 80-minute discussion Tuesday night, city commissioners unanimously passed an ordinance that updates and clarifies the city’s Historic Preservation policy.

“This relaxes many of the rules and makes it easier to get hurricane protection,” said Pamala Ryan, a senior associate with the law firm Torcivia, Donlon, Goddeau & Ansay.

Second reading is scheduled for Dec. 5.

The ordinance now says the Historic Resources Preservation Board no longer has the ability to say no to hurricane protective windows; it delineates between the treatment for landmarks and contributing structures versus non contributing structures and it relaxed the rules on windows, saying if they cost 25 percent more, staff will consider that cost.

The historical designation rules are set by the state’s Department of Interior.

Although commissioners passed the ordinance, many also had issues with it.

“I’m very excited about the design guidelines, but I’m also very concerned about the design guidelines,” said Commissioner Andy Amoroso. “I’m concerned they’re not here. And why are we going out to get someone else to write our design guidelines? We have all this staff on board.”

Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell agreed, saying design guidelines should have been in place from the start.

“I’ve heard excuse after excuse,” Maxwell said.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Omari Hardy wanted to know would someone be able to take perfectly operable windows that are not impact windows and put in impact windows.

Ryan said yes.

“I won’t tell you staff won’t try to talk to the homeowner and try to get them to save the windows that are there,” she said. “They still would have to comply, but as long as they did, they would be allowed to put in the hurricane impact windows.”

Maxwell later said, “we shouldn’t be talking to anybody about putting impact windows on their homes. I have a right to protect my asset.”

This is not a new issue for Lake Worth.

Commissioners considered the ordinance on first reading on Aug.1. But, by second reading two weeks later, the Florida Department of State and Division of Historical Resources raised several issues regarding the changes, saying it could jeopardize the city’s program and possibly its state certification.

After several calls and emails between Lake Worth’s attorney’s office and the state, a final ordinance was crafted.