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Twin Falls residents and council debate historic district for downtown neighborhood

Twin Falls City Hall
Rachel Cohen
Boise State Public Radio
Twin Falls City Hall

A group of Twin Falls residents wants a downtown neighborhood to become a historic district, but the city is not sure about the idea.

The Friends of the Avenues approached the city about a historic district this spring. Kate Lopez is a member and spoke at a council hearing on the subject this week.

“Our city is becoming Walmart and Target, and every other homogenous business in the world. Where it's not like that," she said, "is downtown.”

The neighborhood features about 300 single-family homes and many of the original structures were built before 1925. Some people raised concerns during the meeting about what new guidelines could mean for property owners.

“The additional scrutiny on everything from plants to property use that a historical district would create for the homeowner sounds quite onerous," said Philip Valenta.

The guidelines have not been established yet, and Lopez said the intent is for them not to be onerous.

"The intent is to keep an area that's beautiful the way it is now, to welcome visitors to town," she said.

The city said setting up the district could cost it between $48,000 and $125,000 — to establish the historic guidelines and to conduct an updated study of the area.

Then, there was the "elephant in the room," as Mayor Ruth Pierce put it.

Many in favor of the historic district cited opposition to a new apartment building in the neighborhood in their comments for why the new restrictions are needed. However, the city said the building would have been approved anyway because it's on a block zoned as multi-family residential.

The council is asking city staff to do more research on what a historic district would mean for Twin Falls.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

Copyright 2022 Boise State Public Radio

I cover environmental issues, outdoor recreation and local news for Boise State Public Radio. Beyond reporting, I contribute to the station’s digital strategy efforts and enjoy thinking about how our work can best reach and serve our audience. The best part of my job is that I get to learn something new almost every day.

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