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Homeowners in Third Ward's Riverside Terrace subdivision divided on historic distinction

Having a distinction means residents will be under a new set of rules to preserve the neighborhood and property.

HOUSTON — Third Ward's Riverside Terrace subdivision is marked by its historical character, but a proposal to make a portion of the area in southeast Houston a historic district has homeowners divided.

Homeowners against the change hosted a community meeting at Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church Thursday evening. 

Sharon Evans-Brooks, Vice President of the Riverside Civic Association was one person who raised concerns.

"Residents were living their lives and there were neighbors who decided that they wanted a historic district,” explained Evans-Brooks.

She says they’re looking to challenge the proposal.

“Our ask is for council to reject the application and the process be reconsidered," she said. 

The city said the application to create the historic district was initiated by a homeowner back in December. City officials said the original application of 51 homes was reduced to 19 homes after the planning development director redrew lines.

The redrawn lines allowed the petition to receive the required number of votes to move forward.

"They redrew the lines and borrowed some votes from another street in order to meet the required 67% to pass. That’s fundamentally the problem,” said Brooks-Evans. “There are neighbors in that area who do not want to be included in the district.”

Jack May is one of the 19 homeowners who voted in favor. His concern is the vacant lot next door.

“I’m concerned a house more appropriate for the suburbs than appropriate for this block will go into place," he said. 

Brooks said the requirements for the upkeep of historical homes can be costly. She said one of their fears is that it will push out longtime residents who can’t afford the improvements.

"We have prime real estate in our area and we by the very nature of people being able to maintain them if they're being placed into a historic district, we can see them being pushed out."

A public hearing will be scheduled at city council next week. After the hearing, the measure will move on to council for a final vote.

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