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About Conservation Districts

In the recent past, citizens have expressed an interest in a kind of district which is less restrictive than a full historic district in which all exterior changes are reviewed by the Commission. In Bloomington, this kind of district, called a Conservation or "phased" District, has been available since 1995.

A Conservation District is intended to slow radical change in a neighborhood by reviewing only major events like demolition and new construction. In comparison, a historic district regulates all exterior changes and best serves districts with high architectural integrity. Often a Conservation District is appropriate when there is significant development pressure or when the inventory of buildings to be protected is historic but not individually of high or unique architectural value.

Bloomington's Conservation Districts

Matlock Heights

populist modern Learn about Matlock Heights Conservation District

On February 19, 2013 Matlock Heights was listed as the first mid-century district in the state of Indiana. It includes 80 structures. Matlock Heights (PDF 343.49 KB)

Design Guidelines

Final Matlock Heights DG (PDF 17.13 MB)

A Conservation District has less regulation than a full historic district, affecting only moving, demolition or new construction of a principal or accessory building. After three years, the owners of property withn the district are provided an opportunity to object to its elevation to a full historic district. If a majority of owners object in writing, then the distrtrict continues as a Conservation District.

How to Make Changes

In a Conservation District, if you need to move, demolish or build a new building, you are required to go before the Bloomington Historic Preservation Commission to obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness. Application forms are available on this site. By law, this process can take no more than 30 days after a complete application is received.

A Conservation District does not require the review of minor changes such as paint color, porch enclosure, window replacement or additions. Accessory buildings like garages and storage buildings do need certificates of appropriateness. Neighborhood residents in each district have helped create design guidelines tailored to the architecture of their area. More information about appropriate design is available in the guidelines that have been adopted for Prospect Hill and McDoel Conservation Districts.

How to Apply

An application form is available on-line or through the Office of Housing and Neighborhood Development.

Historic Designation Form (PDF 8.72 KB)

A Conservation District must meet the same critieria as a historic district. It must first be surveyed and documented for historic resources. Ask the Program Manager for Historic Preservation whether this has been completed. The application for Conservation district status includes the requirement of three public information sessions that serve to educate residents and owners about the requirements of district status. An ad hoc committee of owners, commisioners and the council person who represents the area will oversee the creation of design guidelines. They also select the final boundaries of the proposed district. This continued discussion allows all owners to participate, ask questions, and voice concerns.

Upon completion of the application form (including the addresses and classifications of buildings from the survey and a short history of the district) The proposal is forwarded to the Historic Preservation Commission for review. At this point owners of properties will be formally notified of the public hearing. If approved, the Commission's recommendation is sent to Common Council where there are two more opportunities for public comment before the final vote.

Unlike a historic district, conservation district owners participate in a referendum before the third anniversary of the district's adoption. Each owner will be asked whether they object to elevation to a full historic district. If a majority object in writing, then the district continues as a conservation district. If a majority does not object, then the district becomes a full historic district.

Timeline

1. Complete Survey (inquire whther this has been completed already)

2. Begin to educate owners, by newsletter or mailing

3. Establish interest, by petition or letter from Neighborhood Association

4. Form Ad Hoc Committee with Commission

5. Complete three Public Information Meetings

6. Complete application (with staff)

7. Historic Preservation Commission Public Hearing

8. Common Council Hearings

9. District referendum before third year anniversary (staff)

Information in Conservation Districts