Under the Dome

NC Senate panel votes to let counties, towns offer historic preservation grants

Restorations of the Clayton Spinning Mill have stalled due to the economic slump. An N.C. Senate bill would allow local governments to offer grants and loans to property owners who renovate historic buildings.
Restorations of the Clayton Spinning Mill have stalled due to the economic slump. An N.C. Senate bill would allow local governments to offer grants and loans to property owners who renovate historic buildings. tlong@newsobserver.com

Counties and municipalities could create their own incentive programs for historic preservation under a bill that passed the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday.

Senate Bill 472 would allow counties, cities and towns to issue grants or loans – funded by property taxes – to public and private property owners seeking to restore historic buildings.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Andrew Brock of Mocksville, said some towns have already tried to offer incentives. “The problem is that they wound up in the court system,” he said, pointing to lawsuits questions local governments’ authority on incentives. “It’s just another tool to preserve our historical buildings.”

The Senate proposal is separate from a state historic preservation tax credit that expired at the beginning of the year. Gov. Pat McCrory has lobbied heavily to restore it, and while his proposal has passed the House, the Senate hasn’t yet discussed it.

McCrory’s Cultural Resources Secretary, Susan Kluttz, was at Tuesday’s committee meeting to remind senators about the state program.

“I appreciate this bill that clarifies the authority of local government,” she said. “But I want to make sure that this committee realizes that this bill alone is not sufficient for the historic preservation needs of this state.”

Kluttz has been traveling across the state – sometimes with McCrory – and said Tuesday that she’s now made 60 stops in 40 towns to promote the tax credit.

A co-sponsor of the Senate bill, Republican Sen. Bob Rucho of Mecklenburg County, has said he thinks historic preservation incentives should be the responsibility of local government – not the state.

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