Saving significant homes will be the focus of proposed amendments to the River Forest Historic Preservation Ordinance when they are brought before the public at a meeting of the Historic Preservation Commission on Feb. 3.

At the meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Roosevelt Middle School auditorium, commissioners will discuss proposed ordinance changes that protect architecturally and historically significant village properties against demolition.

“We view this as really a safety valve,” said commission Chairman David Franek.

He and fellow commissioner Laurel McMahon agreed that the impetus for the proposal was the 2009 demolition of a property built by renowned architect William Drummond.

The first proposed change would allow the commission 120 days to review any demolition applications. The current ordinance allows for 45 days.

The second change would require a property owner or a legal representative to attend a public commission meeting to discuss any proposed demolition.

The third change would give the commission the ability to deny a demolition permit should the property be determined historically or architecturally significant. The property owner could, however, appeal that decision to the village board of trustees.

“We have identified some real deficiencies,” said McMahon of the current ordinance. “This is really something that can’t wait.”

Franek said that even if the proposed amendments go through, he hopes the board won’t have to fall back on them. Instead, he hopes homeowners will reconsider tearing down significant homes. “That means people are respecting the unique buildings and environment that we have in the village,” Franek said.

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