Public Hearing to Discuss
Historic Preservation in Larchmont
The richness of Larchmont life is a product of many things, including its unique history and architectural heritage. Development pressure in Larchmont and southern Westchester County in general, in the past 20+ years has resulted in the demolition and threatened demolition of homes important to the Village’s character. In February 2017, to ensure the long-term vitality of the community and the continuance of the qualities that attract home buyers and businesses to Larchmont, the Village Board of Trustees and Mayor created the Historic Preservation Task Force (HPTF). The HPTF was tasked with conducting research on existing historic-preservation legislation, commissions, historic districts and sites within Westchester County and making recommendations regarding historic preservation in the Village.
The HPTF, in consultation with the New York State Historical Preservation Office (“SHPO”) and other preservation organizations, completed its first phase of research. They recommended that the Village commission a reconnaissance-level Historic Resource Survey Report (“HRS Report”) of all buildings, structures, sites, objects and districts within the Village and identify all those that are significant historic, architectural and/or cultural resources. The HPTF was awarded a grant from the Preservation League of New York State, which partially offset the cost of the survey. In July 2019, the Village commissioned Larson Fisher Associates of Woodstock, New York, to conduct the survey. They conducted considerable fieldwork, including photographing numerous buildings and other sites in the Village, researching background histories on subdivisions, developers, architects, builders, and owners, while developing a historical overview of how the Village evolved.
The HPTF presented the completed HRS Report to the Village Board at a public meeting in June of 2021. The final HRS Report includes an inventory of 500 properties, including 350 in the Manor and 150 in the Village. A physical copy can be viewed at the Resource Desk in the Larchmont Public Library.
Following the completion and review of the HRS Report, the HPTF made its recommendation to the Village Board that the Village enact historical preservation legislation to give the Village the tools it needs to identify and protect the unique features that contribute to Larchmont’s distinctive character and charm, while at the same time allowing for the Village to evolve.
The HPTF worked with the Village Board, Village attorney and SHPO to modify the NYS Model Preservation Law to reflect the unique qualities of the Village and its land use codes and processes. As the HPTF and the Village Board discussed the proposed legislation, one of the main goals was to ensure that they did not add additional steps to the existing land use process.
In the proposed legislation, the Historic Preservation Commission (“Commission”) would use the HRS Report to identify districts and individual properties as historically significant, go through the public hearing process laid out in the proposed legislation, and make recommendations for designation to the Village Board. At that time, when the Board is ready to make those initial designations, the Architectural Review Board would be combined with the Commission. Since the proposed legislation only impacts the exterior of homes in the Village the review process for the new combined Architectural Review Board/Commission will be substantially the same as the existing process.
The Village Board reviewed the legislation over the course of multiple work sessions and is now ready to submit the proposed law to the community for comments and feedback. The Village Board supports the HPTF in its important work and its recommendation that the Village enact a Historic Preservation law. If passed, the Village would join a community of twenty other Westchester municipalities (and hundreds more all around the country) that have already enacted historic preservation legislation.
The Village has set a public hearing to discuss the proposed Historical Preservation law at its meeting set for October 17 at 7:30pm in the Village Courtroom.