Understanding the LUCC
Monday, November 9, 2009 at 08:10AM
Salley Trefethen

by Lauren Austin

Have you ever noticed the bright pink or yellow posters hanging on a neighbor’s fence or in their window?

Living in a Historic District brings its special rewards that are found nowhere else in Albuquerque: beautiful homes, wonderful neighbors, and events like the Dickens of a Dinner, the Mother’s Day Tour, & the Easter Egg Hunt. It also brings special responsibilities to the home owners and residents. The Landmarks and Urban Conservation Commission is a part of the City of Albuquerque’s Planning Department and responsible to protect the four historical overlay districts and help maintain the unique flavor of each district. Huning Highland was the first subdivision of Albuquerque and was called “New Town” as it set the eastern boundary of the growing city in contrast to the original city now called “Old Town.” Franz Huning purchased the land and subdivided it for the growing population of people coming from back east in the 1890’s to work on the railroad.  Our neighborhood certainly shows the diversity of styles popular around the turn of the 20th Century. The LUCC is charged with maintaining the exterior appearance of the homes to reflect their historical integrity and must be contacted whenever you want to make certain changes to the exterior of your home like replacing windows, building a fence, or adding a room to name a few (remembering even after LUCC’s decision you may still need to obtain building permits.)  For some projects you may be able to obtain a staff approval but for larger ones you may have to appear in front of the Commissioners for approval. So how do you go about the process?  First get a clear idea of what you want to do. Get information or samples of the products (windows, fencing, etc) that you plan to use.  Draw up a site plan. It doesn’t have to be fancy but make sure your measurements and perspectives are accurate.  Call Maryellen Hennessy at LUCC (924-3891) and set up an appointment.  She’ll discuss your plans with you and provide you with the forms you will need to complete (not hard) and either approve it on a staff decision or help you apply for a Commission hearing. She’ll send you downstairs to the planning counter to file your paperwork, pay your application fee (if required), and get your signs to post.

There are a few exceptions: paint color is yours to choose without discussing I with the LUCC as well as repairs in an emergency situation (leaking roofs) as long as the work maintains the character of the home and comlies with the Huning Highland Design Overlay requirements which are available on the City of Albuquerque’s website. I would suggest speaking with Maryellen anyway.

What happens if you ignore the proper process? Possible fines and, in some cases, (aluminum or vinyl windows as an example) the unapproved work must be removed and replaced with approved materials. Has it happened? Yes! Will it happen to you? Not,not as long as you understand the process and follow all the right steps.

Article originally appeared on HHHDA Neighborhood News and Views (http://www.hhhda.org/).
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