Loveland City Council had first reading of proposed guidelines and boundaries

By Chuck Gibson 

LOVELAND, OH (March 3, 2021) – – Loveland City Council members had the first reading of a proposed plan for a historic preservation and planning district  during the council meeting held Tuesday, February 23. 

One week before the City Council meeting, the Historic Preservation & Planning Commission (HPPC) voted to recommend the proposed district following a public hearing on the matter. The 85 page proposal detailing design guidelines and boundaries for a historic preservation and planning district for the City of Loveland is the culmination of a three year effort by the HPPC. All their meetings have been open to the public. Historic Preservation & Planning commission chairperson Randy Campion noted the commission board had a “good mix” to present all sides as well as a good public presence at the meetings.

“There was a lot of discussion about it,” said Campion. “I was really open about letting people talk at meetings. Loveland has a policy where you’re allowed to speak for five minutes and then that’s it. At our meetings, if you wanted to talk, we let you talk as long as you wanted. We heard from people who came to our meetings. They moved how we did things.”

David Kennedy, Loveland City Manager (File)

Loveland City Council could vote on the proposal as early as their next scheduled meeting Tuesday, March 9. That meeting will be a public hearing even though no additional public hearing is required. The effort to ensure the Historic Preservation & Planning District design guidelines and boundaries will place no burdens on property owners, whether residential or commercial was stressed by HPP Commission Chairperson Randy Campion, co-chair Mary Ann Lynn, and Loveland City Manager David Kennedy.  

“The residential component of this is miniscule,” said Kennedy. “Outside making a significant addition, you really only kick in to place if the building is leveled and redeveloped.”

The HPPC was very specific in not creating rules or design guidelines for common maintenance or cosmetic work on a property such as painting, or landscape. Co-chair Mary Ann Lynn confirmed the commission was very purposeful in working toward guidelines that will allow the least restrictions for property owners while preserving and protecting historic properties and good future planning.

“This group has worked very hard and Dave Kennedy has been involved in the establishment of a historic preservation district before. He did it in New Richmond,” said Lynn. “From day one, he was very adamant with the message we really need to keep this as unburdensome for the residents living in this district as we can. This group has been tasked with two separate missions. One is historic preservation, but the other is to ensure thoughtful planning for future development. Those are two very different goals.”

Historic Downtown Loveland following the fire May 2017 (Chuck Gibson File)

It can be said this initiative for historic preservation and future planning was driven by two clear and distinct events in downtown Loveland. There is no doubt the fire, which ultimately spurred the development of Ramsey’s, Tano’s and Bishop’s Quarter, caused city officials and leaders to think hard about preservation and planning for future development. The second, which actually came first, is the four-story Loveland Station apartment building on the corner across from the fire station and Loveland Stage Company. It could be argued nobody likes that structure and nobody wants to see that repeated.

The HPPC recommended proposal does three things: it establishes boundaries for a historic preservation district, it sets guidelines for businesses and homeowners for maintenance, renovation, or new construction and finally it establishes the process property owners in the district will go through. The proposed boundaries for the district include less than 270 total residential properties.

“Pretty much the downtown district corridor,” Kennedy said, “which is the river to Second Street, and from behind Eads Fence Company to behind Nisbet Park. The commission also included E. Loveland up to the Nature Preserve entrance.”

The obvious concern for owners within the district is “new rules” and any limitations resulting from those rules. The details are too many to print here, but the “Residential Guide” pages 18-33 in the proposal highlights exactly what needs approval – Only projects that require a building permit are subject to review and approval by the Historic Preservation and Planning Commission (HPPC). Those pages also explain the process as well as guidelines for materials, maintenance, energy efficiency and new residential construction.  The emphasis of the HPPC has been on “protecting the integrity of Loveland’s historic downtown” and “to protect the rights and property values of homeowners in the district” while supporting existing business and the development of future business in Historic Downtown Loveland.

“We’re not interested in the minutiae of non-structural changes to buildings,” Lynn said. “We are sensitive to the scale. No building shall be more than one-story differential of surrounding buildings and nothing taller than three stories. I think this city council is very pro-development, but it is thoughtful development.”

Loveland, Ohio City Hall – (File photo)

The proposal document includes 36 pages (pages 40-76) with guidelines for existing and future commercial buildings. Those pages detail preservation and rehabilitation of commercial structures, new construction, site and setting for commercial and tax credit programs. The Historic Preservation & Planning Commission touts a major benefit of maintaining the charm and historic nature of the area while ensuring support for renovation and future construction. The HPPC Chairperson, Randy Campion himself brings the unique perspective of being a residential owner of a historic home within the district.

Campion also brought experience establishing a similar historic preservation district where he lived previously in Northern Kentucky. He wants to protect and preserve history while understanding the desire to avoid unnecessary rules and restrictions to hinder property owners. Half the members of the commission are historic preservationists like Campion, the other half designers. It made for some spirited debate leading up to a plan with which they are all comfortable and confident is good for Loveland.

“We’ve had a lot of arguments,” Campion said. “It’s been a good three years. It’s been a good process. We didn’t rush into it. The city can still come down and voice their opinion. It’s council’s decision, not ours. This is just our recommendation.”

The Loveland City Council had their first reading, and they have been reviewing and studying comments expressed by the community. The council meeting scheduled for Tuesday, March 9, will again be an opportunity for the public to be heard. Council could vote on the Historic Preservation & Planning District guidelines at that meeting.

CLICK HERE to access the 95 page proposal and map of proposeed Historic Preservation & Planning District

CLICK HERE to visit City of Loveland online