OUR HISTORIC DISTRICTS ARE SAFE (FOR NOW)!
On April 26, the Michigan Historic Preservation Network reported that consideration of HB 5232 in the Local Government Committee would be indefinitely suspended. Rep. Lee Chatfield, committee chair, wrote in a letter to his constituents that the bill would be dropped because “I have been unable to adequately satisfy many of the concerns of my constituents.”
This may not be the end of the road for anti-historic district legislation in Michigan. The bill could be bumped to another committee or tacked on to another package of bills. But for now, Michigan’s local historic districts — the most effective tool we have for doing the work of historic preservation in our communities — are safe.
Your support and advocacy made a difference! Thank you for your HUNDREDS of letters to your representatives, the governor’s office, and local media! Together we helped #SaveYourHDs!
Read more from MHPN and stay tuned for any updates to this legislation as we proceed with caution.
FEBRUARY 7: Bills to reduce protection for Michigan’s historic resources and effectively end historic districts, HB5232/SB720, were introduced recently in Lansing. In the House Local Government Committee, testimony was heard the day after the bill was introduced. In the Senate, no hearing has been scheduled.
UPDATE FEBRUARY 25: On Wednesday, February 24, the Local Government House Committee unanimously voted in favor of introducing a substitute House Bill 5232. The bill was not voted out of committee. This version of the bill is similar to the first version. Two clauses have been removed from the substitute: the 10-year sunset on local historic districts and the general electorate vote of the public in establishing a local historic district. However, other language was introduced that is in many ways more problematic than the first bill. MHPN’s one-pager addressing some of these issues can be found here. We are still opposing the substitute bill and strongly encourage you to do the same.
Preservation Detroit has been working in partnership with MHPN and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, as well as with individuals and organizations around the state, to protect our historic districts.
The most important thing you can do right now if you oppose these bills is to continue to contact the Local Government committee members, Governor Snyder, and your local representatives. Your calls, letters, social media commentary, and emails ARE MAKING a difference in protecting our historic resources, and the tourism, jobs, and economic development that stems from them. PLEASE KEEP THEM COMING! #SaveYourHD
It’s especially important to reach out to Representative Afendoulis and Senator Macgregor, who introduced the bills in the House and Senate, and Rep. Lee Chatfield, the Chair of the House Local Government Committee.
Sen. MacGregor: (517) 373-0797, SenPMacGregor@senate.michigan.gov
Rep. Lee Chatfield: (517) 373-2629, LeeChatfield@house.mi.gov
Please encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same. You can reach Governor Snyder’s office by phone, fax, mail, or online submission.
Full language of the House and Senate Bills, Bill Sponsors, Current Bill Status, and the House and Senate Local Government Committee members can be found below. Are your legislators involved? Take a look.
Here’s sample language for you to use – from emails and letters by us, our members, and our partners. Feel free to adapt or copy!
Together, we can make sure our historic landmarks and neighborhoods are part of our future. #SaveYourHD
These bills don’t solve any problems, and they make lots of costly, complicated new ones. Want to learn more?
Historic Preservation Threatened?, by Jack Lessenberry (Dome Magazine, February 26, 2016)
Grand Rapids pens letter to lawmakers over threat to historic districts, by Monica Scott (MLive, Feburary 24, 2016)
Planning expert: Legislation could “abolish historic districts” in Michigan(Stateside, Michigan Radio, Feburary 24, 2016)
Why We Support Historic Districts & Oppose Michigan HB5232 by Amy Haimer (
Overhaul of historic district law puts burden on property owners, by Sharon Ferraro (MLive, February 24, 2016)
Editorial: How not to preserve our past (The Blade [Toledo], February 23, 2016)
Affluent suburb behind push to dismantle Michigan historic districts, by Garrett Ellison (MLive, February 22, 2016)
Developers, preservationists puzzled by bills to update historic district statutes, by Nick Manes (MiBiz, February 21, 2016)
Feedback: ‘Historic’ legislation flawed, by Paul M. Keep (Detroit Free Press, February 20, 2016)
Fight to Preserve Historic Preservation Tools for Cities, by Anna Clark (Next City, February 18, 2016)
Rapid Blog: Afendoulis bill should disappear, not Grand Rapids’ historic districts, by Rebecca Smith-Hoffman (Rapid Growth, February 18, 2016)
Bill threaten local historic districts in Michigan, by John Gallagher (Detroit Free Press, February 6, 2016
Opinion: Michigan’s Historic Districts Act isn’t broke, so don’t fix it, by James Turner (ModelD, February 5, 2016)
Leave laws that protect historic districts alone, by Amy Elliott Bragg (Hometown Life, February 4, 2016)
Local group expresses concern for fate of historic districts, by WWMT Staff (WWMT, February 3, 2016)
‘It’s absolutely despicable,” Ypsilanti council member says of bill to weaken historic districts, by Tom Perkins (MLive, February 3, 2016)
Historic Districts Process Changed with Proposed Amendment, by Robin Runyan (Curbed Detroit, February 1, 2016)
Changes to historic district designation up for debate, by Kathleen Gray (Detroit Free Press, January 30, 2016)
Bills would make it harder to get, keep historic district status, by Sarah Cwiek (Michigan Radio, January 28, 2016)
Grand Rapids preservationists to state lawmakers: hands off our historic districts, by Anya Zentmeyer (Rapid Growth, Feb 11, 2016)
Michigan’s primary tool for preserving historic buildings and neighborhoods could disappear, by Aron Mondry (Metromode, Feb 10, 2016)
We used some language from the Michigan Historic Preservation Network and Historical Society of Michigan’s advocacy alerts in this update – we thank them!