Andy Palewski, a preservation advocate who nominated the Church of the Assumption for the historic register, thinks the line is necessary, and removing it will make the already-ambiguous hardship test even murkier. Palewski said he thinks Farnham is trying to “put up a defensive wall” by making the process more discretionary for the Commission. The Board of L&I Review previously overturned the Historical Commission’s granting of hardship to the Church of the Assumption owners, on the theory that they hadn’t tried hard enought to sell the property.
The line Farnham wants to remove, Palewski said, is “as close to being black-and-white as anything that you can read in the Rules and Regulations. It makes it fairly clear what you have to do to demonstrate hardship.”
On Wednesday morning, the Preservation Alliance circulated a petition calling for the Historical Commission to table the proposed revisions to the rules and regulations. An email “Advocacy Alert” read: “While the Alliance recognizes that, under certain limited circumstances, a literal attempt of sale is not absolutely necessary to demonstrate impracticability, we are concerned that the term “impracticable” lacks clear definition in either the Ordinance or the Rules and Regulations. This could have the dual effect of weakening the standards for demonstrating financial hardship while simultaneously exposing the Commission to more challenges of its decisions, not fewer.”