Preservation Massachusetts joins preservation partners across the state and country in our extreme concern regarding proposed revisions to the National Register of Historic Places. The proposed rule changes would substantially impact how historic resources are nominated to the National Register of Historic Places and determined eligible. While the stated intent is to bring regulations current with recent amendments to the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), the proposed revisions clearly go far beyond that purpose and are inconsistent with the language in and intent of the NHPA.
The National Park Service is seeking public comment and we need your voice! Submit comments in opposition to the proposed rule changes by April 30th. Preservation Massachusetts will submit opposing comments and are encouraging all of our local partners, advocates and colleagues to as well.
7 Ways the Proposed Changes Will Have a Negative Impact
1. Federal historic properties. Federal agencies will be given total control of whether to nominate properties under their jurisdiction, meaning federally owned historic properties may no longer be added to the National Register of Historic Places.
2. Federal ownership in a historic district. A historic district nomination can be blocked if only one property in the entire district is owned by the US Government and the agency that owns the property objects to listing.
3. Property owner objections. Owners of large properties will be given an outweighed ability to block the listing of historic districts or other nominations to the National Register. Under the proposed revisions, objections to National Register listings will be based on the ownership of a majority of the land area in addition to the current counting of one private owner, one vote. There is no statutory authority to make this change and any such change would place a near impossible burden on State Historic Preservation Officers to implement.
4. Historic Tax Credit Projects. The vast majority of federal historic tax credit projects are in National Register historic districts. Changing the rules for owner objections to nominations will jeopardize the listing of new historic districts, and thus restrict the use of historic tax credits.
5. Section 106. Determinations of eligibility for listing in the National Register are the primary vehicle for considering whether a property is worthy of consideration under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. The federal agency, not the Keeper of the National Register, will have the final say on the eligibility of a property under its jurisdiction, thereby thwarting consultation on a project.
6. Appeal Process. By law, any person or local government has the right to appeal the failure of a nominating authority to nominate a property to the National Register. That right will disappear if the property is a federally owned and the agency objects.
7. Consultation with Affected Parties. The proposed revisions falsely claim there would be no impact on federally recognized Indian tribes even though the changes would have a substantial effect on the recognition and consideration of historic places they value, which is contrary to the requirement to consult with tribes. Additionally, the revisions fail to consider potential concerns of State Historic Preservation Officers or others involved in historic preservation who would be drastically impacted and forced to adhere to these new rules.
How To Take Action
1. Review a sample letter provided by Preservation Action and include local examples of how the proposed changes would impact preservation in your community
2. Submit comments to the National Park Service before April 30, 2019.
3. Share with friends, family, coworkers
4. Share on social media with hashtag #hpadvocacy