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Historic preservation chapter will be added to city’s plan

Years of hard work culminated Monday night when the Millwood City Council unanimously approved adding a separate chapter to the city’s Comprehensive Plan specifically for historic preservation.

This decision came as a result of a request made by the Millwood Historical Society during the city’s annual amendment cycle in January. The neighborhood group originally began work on this project in 2007.

“This is perhaps the only chapter that is totally positive and a benefit to the community,” Historical Society member, resident and Millwood business owner Greg Mott said about the proposed amendment. “We are helping to preserve our community.”

One of the proposed goals is to attain the status of a certified local government through the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation. Participation in the program requires a local government to establish and maintain a Historic Preservation Commission, survey local historic buildings, enforce state and local preservation laws and provide for public participation.

The program also provides tax incentives, special grants, technical assistance and training from the state historic preservation office.

“Everything is voluntary and there is absolutely no negative placed on a homeowner or property rights,” Mott said. “It’s basically all carrots. Only those that chose to be a part of it are part of it.”

The adoption of the amendment gives the city authority to identify and encourage preservation of historic properties in the area, including those outside the official historic district.

“Our community is a gem,” longtime resident and society member Vikkie Nacarrato said. “What we want to do is bring in everybody, all their history, develop education and resources.”

“Beautifully done,” Councilman Glenn Bailey said to the members. “We appreciate your hard work.”

Also at the meeting, Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich and Lisa Jameson, program specialist for Spokane Department of Emergency Management, presented the department’s 2010 Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan to the Council.

“A lot of elected officials don’t understand the role of the Department of Emergency Management in this community,” Knezovich said. “They think it is a county-run function. It’s not. It’s your function. Each and every community has signed an agreement to have a collective effort in that arena.”

According to Knezovich, challenges the department faced during the massive snowstorm that hit the region two years ago illustrated a need for elected officials understanding their specific roles and responsibilities.

“You the elected official have a vital role because you are the policy setters,” Knezovich said. “You are ultimately the ones that make key decisions as far as emergencies.”