Landmark nomination fee fails to find traction

Randy Petersen, Post-Bulletin, Rochester, Minn.
·2 min read

Mar. 2—The Rochester City Council failed to find agreement in proposed fees for nominating historical landmark properties in the city.

"There are so many different perspectives, and it's easy to understand how the city is proposing to have some fees to recoup costs," said Council President Brooke Carlson.

At the same time, she highlighted the council disagreement by citing a desire to make sure fees don't deter residents from nominating properties as landmarks.

The city's Community Development Department recommended a $100 fee for property owners and $300 for non-owners, as well as a $1,500 deposit to cover potential outside study related to reviewing the historic nature of a property.

Any portion of the deposit would be returned if not spent, and Community Development Director Cindy Steinhauser said the deposit would only be used with approval of the person submitting the nomination.

Last week, the city's Heritage Preservation Commission recommended setting the fee at zero dollars.

The council ran through several fee options Monday, but failed to find one the majority could support.

"I don't think we need to make a decision about the fee amount today," said City Council member Kelly Rae Kirkpatrick.

The discussion comes as the city works on the only nomination it has seen submitted by someone who doesn't own the property being addressed.

Rochester resident Kevin Lund nominated the former Time Theatre building, which houses Legends Bar and Grill, as a landmark on Feb. 5, shortly after the City Council voted 4-3 to start the process toward demolition of the building at 11 Fourth St. SE.

The nomination is being prepared for a March 23 public hearing in front of the Heritage Preservation Commission, and Deputy City Administrator Aaron Parrish said the city is working to gather information for a related state review.

Molly Patterson-Lundgren, the city's heritage preservation and urban design coordinator, said the proposed fees, along with the deposit, is being proposed to offset future costs of similar study.

"It's really going to vary on what will have to go into these reviews," she said.

The failure to set a fee leaves the potential for a fee in the city's heritage preservation ordinance without a defined dollar amount.

In other business, the council:

— Unanimously supported a change to the city's transit-oriented district zoning to allow construction of buildings longer than 150 feet while following specified guidelines.

— Approved a zone change for a half-acre site located at the southeast corner of 16 Street Northwest and 17 Avenue. The council voted 5-2 to support the change to a restricted commercial zoning designation, with Council President Brooke Carlson and council member Kelly Rae Kirkpatrick opposed..

— Authorized $25,000 from contingency funding to conduct a survey and other community feedback to provide insights regarding the city's 2016 Parks System Plan.