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Paradise Valley Historical Advisory Committee builds on enthusiasm for preservation

A view of the Paradise Valley Town Hall Municipal Complex. (Photo: Arianna Grainey/DigitalFreePress)
Historical Advisory Committee spearheads Paradise Valley historic designations
By Terrance Thornton | Digital Free Press

An effort led by the Town of Paradise Valley Historical Advisory Committee and spearheaded by resident and former Town Attorney Doug Jorden is picking up steam.

Over the last calendar year, Paradise Valley Town Council has been wholeheartedly accepting recommendations of the Historical Advisory Committee — on a voluntary basis — to designate the residences of private citizens as ‘historic’ properties.

Over the last few years, the number of homeowners petitioning Town Hall through the blessing of the Historical Advisory Committee continues to grow.

“I am very proud to have had the opportunity to help the committee — I am not a member of the committee myself — but I was able to help put together the application form and help get that paperwork in order to accept applications,” he told the Arizona Digital Free Press. “This is a resident-driven, 100% voluntary activity to help residents celebrate the heritage of the town.”

Mr. Jorden, a town volunteer at heart, but a zoning attorney by trade, reminds the voluntary ‘historic’ designation does not limit the homeowner’s ability to remodel, expand or restrict any building activity whatsoever.

“In some cities, when you have the ‘historic designation’ you are restricted in certain ways,” he explained. “That is not what the Town of Paradise Valley stands for — it is really about giving residents an opportunity to be proud of their historical heritage.”

Paradise Valley Councilwoman Christine Labelle agrees.

“It is important to me that I am cognizant of the fact I am representing the historic advisory committee as a liaison,” Ms. Labelle said during a Nov. 9 public hearing at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive. “As staff points out the General Plan states that the town shall recognize, promote and support the preservation of significant historic places in the community that contribute to the town’s overall character.”

Councilwoman Labelle serves as liaison to the Historical Advisory Committee and in recent months attended other volunteer events unique to the Town of Paradise Valley and wonders if another is blossoming now.

“With respect to the town’s commitment to the limited government model, what can we do as a town to promote the Historical Advisory Committee to support the goals of preservation?” she said pointing out the recent success of the ‘Featured Artist‘ program at Town Hall.

“It can elevate our brand,” she said. “Things we can point do — kind of [gain] respect on a national and global level for our efforts. We are also representing our residents about the very real concerns out there. We are built out; and homes are going to be scraped and there is going to be incentive for properties to be sold and maybe rezoned for uses that they don’t currently have.”

Ms. Labelle pointed out thanks to Mr. Jorden citing, “We are all benefiting from this today.”

Do you have a property in the Town of Paradise Valley you would like to have considered? Go HERE.

Paradise Valley Town Attorney Andrew McGuire looks on during a recent work session discussion at Town Hall. (Photo by Arianna Grainey/DigitalFreePress)
A brief overview of historic property designations of Arizona

Turns out Paradise Valley Town Attorney Andrew McGuire is a professor of law at Arizona State University and teaches historic preservation.

“This is nothing other than a high-level touch on it,” Mr. McGuire pointed out to local policymakers at the Nov. 9 public hearing.

“It came to the forefront obviously because we have had a recent experience with a historic property or property with historic significance that is now going to be used in a different way and that of course always brings the question.”

Mr. McGuire points out the Town of Paradise Valley uses its General Plan for guidelines regarding the historic preservation of land and property through a formal municipal designation if at all applicable.

“One of the things we do all the time when we start off discussing land use issues in the town is we go back to the General Plan,” he said. “The only specific reference in General Plan to historic preservation is in the housing element … it just talks about recognizing, promoting and preserving significant historic places. It is clearly there in the document it is just expressed in different ways.”

Mr. McGuire points out overarching federal provisions or overlay of a historic district do not apply to landmarks of the Town of Paradise Valley.

“The National Historic Preservation Act is what most think of when think, which represents infrastructure built over decades,” he said of the intricate approvals found in the federal act. “The Arizona State Historic Preservation Act is the state’s counterpart — we don’t have a lot of that here in Arizona just because we don’t have a lot of older structures. There is no city that denies demolition, there is only delay.”

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