Upper Arlington City Council has decided once again to delay its vote on historic preservation legislation.

Upper Arlington City Council has decided once again to delay its vote on historic preservation legislation.

Council was originally scheduled to vote in December 2007 on legislation that would have prohibited the demolition of homes in the south of Lane Avenue area that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

After hearing extensive testimony Monday night from residents who oppose -- as well as those who support -- a revised version of the legislation, council opted to postpone its vote to the last council meeting of 2008 on Dec. 8.

The postponed vote is only the latest development in a long history of proposed historic preservation legislation. The issue has arisen periodically over the years and came to the forefront again in spring 2007 when property owners demolished a home at 1935 N. Devon Road in the historic district.

The Devon Road demolition prompted the city to once again consider historic preservation legislation, as it has in years past. Council had been scheduled to reach a final decision by the end of 2007, but postponed its vote to February 2008 to allow more public discussion.

In response to residents' concerns about potential property-rights infringement, council opted to delay its vote again and form a task force consisting of architects, attorneys, contractors, Realtors, members of council and the Upper Arlington Board of Zoning and Planning (BZAP) and others on both sides of the historic preservation issue.

The task force held six three-hour meetings between March and late August 2008, with sessions conducted by facilitator Scot Dewhirst. At the last meeting of the task force on Aug. 27, members voted 19-1 to recommend revised legislation that would not prohibit the demolition of historic properties, but instead institute a six-month waiting period when property owners apply for demolition permits.

On Oct. 20, BZAP determined that the legislation was ready to go before council.

"This version of the legislation ... is what I would call permissive," said council member Linda Mauger, who chaired the Historic Preservation Task Force.

The legislation's previous version "was very restrictive and only allowed demolition in the event of an economic hardship," she said.

Mauger refuted criticism she said she has heard throughout the community that the historic preservation legislation is being rushed forward.

"The process we have undertaken as a council to respond to this particular issue is one of the most inclusive, informed and fair processes I've seen in my years on council," she said.

Mauger conceded, however, that the city needs to update the list of historic homes that would be affected by the legislation. She proposed that the city hire a preservation consultant to update the list, which city manager Virginia Barney said she would do if council ultimately approves the legislation on Dec. 8.

Residents who voiced opposition Monday night said they fear the historic preservation legislation will affect property values in the historic district.

"(If) somebody wants to sell the property, it's going to limit the pool of people that want to be strapped with this new legislation," said Roxbury Road resident Jim McKinney, the only task force member to vote against the revised historic preservation legislation.

McKinney added that he believes the legislation is unnecessary, since section 7.17 of the city's unified development ordinance already provides protection to homeowners.

"It protects all neighborhoods from structures being built that don't fit in with the neighborhood," McKinney said.

BZAP member Karla Trott, who also served on the historic preservation task force, said section 7.17 of the UDO doesn't address historic preservation.

"It does not prevent demolition and, thus, does not preserve the homes in Arlington. I think that's an important point that's been understood," Trott said. "It's more about faade and neighborhood compatibility and does not address demolition."

Council member Frank Ciotola, who suggested that council postpone its vote to Dec. 8, noted that the final version of the historic preservation legislation just became available to the public at the end of the business day on Nov. 21.

The postponement will allow residents to fully read the legislation and absorb the details before council makes a final decision, Ciotola said.

"A year ago, I was not too thrilled about what was before us. I feel much more comfortable with what is before us now," Ciotola said. "I would tend to want to support this legislation because of the compromises that were made on both sides."