Wednesday, Jun 10, 2015
Historic Districts & Proposed Conservation Districts - SUMMARY

Historic Districts & Proposed Conservation Districts - SUMMARY

Wednesday, Jun 10, 2015

Historic Districts Guidelines Update
Workshop Summary

The City of Mobile has initiated a process to update the current historic districts guidelines. As a part of this process, the City held a community workshop on June 2, 2015 to introduce the project to community members and solicit input.

After an introduction by Cart Blackwell of the Mobile Historic Development Commission, Nore Winter of Winter & Company (a consultant contracted to help the City with the project) delivered a presentation to workshop participants. The presentation covered the following topics:

• Overview of historic preservation in Mobile
• Overview of the project
• Keys to identifying neighborhood features
• Overview of Mobile’s historic districts
• Next steps

The full presentation can be accessed on line at www.mobilehd.org.

Small Group Activity
After the initial presentation, community members were asked to assemble in small groups of six to eight to engage in an activity. Participants worked together to fill out an activity sheet that focused on three major topics:

• Identifying key features of Mobile’s historic districts
• Identifying issues and concerns related to the future of Mobile’s historic districts
• Identifying goals and objectives for the future of Mobile’s historic districts

Exercise Results
After the small group activity, each group was asked to specify a group spokesperson to summarize the results of their group’s discussion to the other groups. The lists below provide highlights of the input provided in the exercise, as reported by each group spokesperson. The lists below are intended only to provide highlights of input received and therefore do not represent an exhaustive list of community comments.

Key Features
• Tree canopy and landscape features
• Building variety and diversity
• Ironwork
• Front porches
• Windows


Issues and Concerns
• New development not set on piers
• Impacts of modern technology (for example: solar panels)
• Hazardous materials
• Approval processes
• Rigidity of current guidelines
• Lack of enforcement
• Use of modern materials
• Absentee ownership
• Conversion of single family homes to multi-family
• Inappropriate commercial and industrial development on corridors adjacent to historic districts
• Incompatible scale of some new construction

Goals and Objectives
• More mixed uses
• Improve drainage issues
• Prioritize streetscape improvements
• Elimination of conflicts between zoning and guidelines
• Improved maintenance of structures
• Allow more flexibility for materials
• Allow for energy conservation


For more information on the Historic Districts Guidelines Update, visit www.mobilehd.org or contact Cart Blackwell at the Mobile Historic Development Commission at 251-208-7998or cart.blackwell@cityofmobile.org.

Conservation Districts Guidelines
Workshop Summary

The City of Mobile has initiated a process to createa conservation guidelines document. Conservation guidelines are different than historic districts guidelines in that they do not address changes to existing buildings. Instead, conservation district guidelines seek to ensure new construction or additional square footage added to existing homes is compatible with established neighborhood patterns. For example, a conservation district may encourage new houses to be set back from the street a distance similar to the setbacks of existing houses in a neighborhood. The City held a community workshop on June 3, 2015 to introduce the project to community members and solicit input.

After an introduction by Cart Blackwell of the Mobile Historic Development Commission, Nore Winter of Winter & Company (a consultant contracted to help the City with the project) delivered a presentation to workshop participants. The presentation covered the following topics:

• Introduction to conservation districts
• Differences between a conservation district and a historic district
• Keys to identifying neighborhood features
• Potential conservation districts in Mobile
• Next steps

The full presentation can be accessed on line at www.mobilehd.org.

Small Group Activity
After the initial presentation, community members were asked to assemble in small groups of six to eight to engage in an activity. Participants worked together to fill out an activity sheet that focused on three major topic areas:

• Identifying objectives for potential conservation districts
• Identifying issues and concerns related to Mobile neighborhoods or for conservation guidelines
• Identifying potential solutions for conserving existing neighborhood character and form

Exercise Results
After the small group activity, each group was asked to specify a group spokesperson to summarize the results of their group’s discussion to the other groups. The lists below provide highlights of the input provided in the exercise, as reported by each group spokesperson.



Broad Objectives
• Acknowledge and maintain landscape and tree canopy within neighborhoods
• Reduce demolitions
• Ensure maintenance is affordable
• Support energy efficiency
• Support the use of modern materials
• Reduce the impact of overhead utilities
• Prioritize streetscape improvements, including drainage solutions and lighting
• Ensure new construction compliments traditional structures
• Consider visual and environmental impacts of surface parking

Issues and Concerns
• Inconsistencies between zoning and potential conservation districts
• Vacant homes
• Environmental contamination concerns
• Lack of education about impact of conservation district designation
• Potential that conservation guidelines will not address appropriate issues

Potential Solutions
• Tie neighborhoods into adjacent natural resources
• Provide for a variety of housing at varied affordability levels
• Take advantage of neighborhood landscaping, vegetation, waterways, and delta
• Prioritize public education and communication
• Engage neighborhood leaders and organizations


For more information on the Conservation Districts Guidelines project, visit www.mobilehd.org or contact Cart Blackwell at the Mobile Historic Development Commission at 251-208-7998 or cartledge.blackwell@cityofmobile.org.