Lakewood council: Property owners must consent before historic designation

Staff writerFebruary 21, 2014 

Historical private property in Lakewood cannot be designated as historic unless the property owner agrees, the Lakewood City Council has decided.

The council approved on Tuesday an update to its code that clarifies the role of the city’s Landmark and Heritage Advisory Board.

The board asked the council give it authority to make a historical designation without the property owner’s consent. Council members on Tuesday said they wanted owners to have a say.

“I’m worried that the perception is out there that in here we are doing a taking,” Councilman Paul Bocchi said.

Previously the council had discussed whether to allow a designation without owner consent, as requested by the advisory board. Since the board’s inception 14 years ago it has recommended seven properties as historic and never designated a property without the owner’s consent.

The idea to allow the designation was to protect historic properties with multiple owners or a large corporation, making it hard to gain consent.

Under the approved update, if a private property owner says no, the heritage board cannot recommend historic designation. There is still room for the board to recommend public property — such as the land and buildings owned by the state on the Western State Hospital grounds in the Fort Steilacoom Historic District.

The advisory board would make a recommendation to the City Council, which has the final approval on a designation.

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