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Birmingham affirms historic district guidelines

By Grace Lovins

Birmingham city commissioners approved a new set of historic district design guidelines at their meeting on Monday, June 26, finalizing a lengthy process to establish a new document based on over 50 years of historic preservation efforts.

The city was awarded a reimbursement grant in 2021 through the State Historic Preservation Office’s Certified Local Government Program to create Birmingham’s first set of comprehensive historic preservation design guidelines, per the commission meeting packet. In 2022, commissioners approved an agreement with Kraemer Design Group to create new historic design guidelines.

Planning director Nick Dupuis stated the end goal was to create a tool for the historic district commission and historic district study committee to use when they review applications for historic resources or resources within a historic district.

In 2022, Kraemer Design Group and city staff attended the Day on the Town event to engage residents on their opinions about the guidelines. A survey on Engage Birmingham was also conducted to learn more about resident’s ideas.

Dupuis said Kraemer Design Group plans to attend the Day on the Town event this year to introduce the city to the new guidelines. A shorter version of the document will also be sent to all historic property owners and those within the historic district.

The guidelines serve as an educational tool for developers, architects and property owners, said Dupuis. It is not regulatory in any way but provides information for both commercial and residential districts.

No new content was added to the guidelines, according to Dupuis, but rather existing content was synthesized to make the document more concise and summarizes the city’s years of preservation efforts.

Commissioners stated they were very impressed with the guidelines, thanking everyone that had worked on the project. Commissioner Clinton Baller offered a few minor suggestions for spelling, dates and the history of Eco City – a residential neighborhood that housed workers in the auto-industry during the early 20th century.

The commission voted unanimously, 6-0, to approve the new guidelines subject to the minor changes pointed out by Baller. Commissioner Pierre Boutros was absent from the meeting.


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