Conlin Properties

826 18th Street - Conlin Properties: From the Assessor's website826 18th Street - James and Roxanne Conlin: From the Assessor's websiteIn a few minutes, James Conlin (yes, related to Des Moines attorney Roxanne Conlin) will ask [pdf] the Des Moines City Council to overturn a decision made by the Historic Preservation Commission relating to one of their properties in the Sherman Hill local historic district.

The property is located at 826 18th Street. The local historic district has been in existence since before the Conlins purchased the property in 1989. They want to install vinyl windows in conflict with the Historic Preservation Commission's interpretation of the established local historic district guidelines.

At the risk of sounding shrill, this decision has the potential to fundamentally weaken all three local historic districts. Should the City Council overrule the HPC, it will send the following messages:

  1. The decisions of the HPC are negotiable if you have deep pockets
  2. The Historic Preservation Commission is not able to adequately interpret the ordinance and guidelines
  3. The historic district guidelines are not specific enough to be enforceable
  4. Local historic districts themselves are not viable.

The staff recommendation (read it HERE) is to AFFIRM the Historic Preservation Commission's decision. It is thorough, well documented, and correct in its interpretation of the ordinance and precedent from prior HPC decisions.

Conlin, of course, recognizes the uphill battle here and rumor has it, has contacted at least the Mayor individually to plead his case. He has, according to one source, indicated a willingness to take the City to court on principal. The Council should ignore this potential threat and hold strong to the rule of law: an ordinance duly approved and consistently enforced by a Commission that applies it fairly and equally.

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