A History of the Hilltop Heritage Conservation Overlay District

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A History of the Hilltop Heritage Conservation Overlay District
Series Title:
A History of the Hilltop Heritage Conservation Overlay District
Susman, Mary Beth
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Center for Colorado and the West
Publication Date:

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Auraria Library
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Auraria Library
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A History of the Hilltop Heritage Conservation Overlay District | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/7/2015 3:34:24 PM] Home A History of the Hilltop Heritage Conservation Overlay DistrictA History of the Hilltop Heritage Conservation Overlay DistrictSubmitted by nwharton on 3-30-2014 03:06 PMAuthor: Tom Noel, Craig Leavitt, and Diane Wunnicke Publishing: Denver, CO: Center for Colorado & the West, 2013. 92 pages. Color photographs, illustrations, maps, notes, index, appendices. 6 x 10. Paperback. Reviewer: Mary Beth Susman Reviewer Affiliation: President, Denver City Council What is a historic overlay district? If you are not a city zoning or planning official, you probably wouldnt know. But the neighbors in Hilltop not only learned what it was, they beat some hefty odds getting their neighborhood protected with one. A History of the Hilltop Heritage Conservation Overlay District recounts the story of how a community managed to change the course of its history with an estimable community-organizing feat. There are valuable lessons here for other communities seeking to do likewise. A historic overlay district is a layer of local planning regulation which incorporates restrictions on an underlying zoning for a given geographic area, with the main goal of preserving the historic character of a neighborhood. Around the year 2000 neighbors became increasingly alarmed at the number of homes that were being razed and rebuilt in Hilltop, not just because of the loss of the structure, but also because the lots were being split to build two or more homes where there had been one, with styles and lots at odds with the character of the area. A neighborhood bent on preventing new construction may be viewed as just resistant to change rather than historic preservationists, and indeed the change-fearing label was one experienced by these neighbors. Additionally there were accusationseven from city council membersthat elitism is what made this neighborhood more successful than most in its battle with City Hall. The truth of the success, though, was a certain genius at community organizing and a culture of the neighborhood. Hilltop resembles what is characterized in sociology literature as the defended neighborhood. A defended neighborhood has a corporate identity (not a business identity but a consensual identity) to residents and to outsiders. The residents of the defended neighborhood perceive that they share a common fate at the hands of the city and other key decision-making organizations and are more willing than other residents to act collectively (Goodwin, 1979). The Hilltop residents understood what factors of their older neighborhood gave the dwellers a sense of place and maintained a sense of community. These were design factors such as front porches, rear garages, and alleys in some cases, all of which promote casual and frequent interaction among neighbors. Indeed, these are elements of neo-urbanism that Denvers new developments at Lowry and Staple sought EXPLORE BY MEDIABook Reviews Photographs Video Biographies New Publications Resource Guides County Newspaper HistoriesEXPLORE BY TOPICLand & Natural Resources Government & Law Agriculture Mining Commerce & Industry Transportation People & Places Communication Healthcare & Medicine Education & Libraries Cultural Communities Recreation & Entertainment Tourism ReligionEXPLORE BY CULTUREHispanic Native AmericanNow, thats wrong! Some of these Japanese are citizens of the United States. Colorado Gov. Ralph Carrs response to Executive Order 9066 forcing Japanese into internment camps during WWII.


A History of the Hilltop Heritage Conservation Overlay District | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/7/2015 3:34:24 PM] Auraria Library 303-556-4587 1100 Lawrence Street Denver, Colorado 80204 In the News Partners & Donations About Us Contact Us to revive. Lot-splitting not only created uncharacteristic homes, it disturbed the casual interaction opportunities in their design. Given small lots, new building had more front loading garages that separated people from each other and gave cars more importance than people. It often lacked front-facing doors or porches that help give residents a sense of responsibility for the goings-on in their block. It was these values that drove the neighbors effective campaign to request and win the overlay district that prevents lot-splitting on certain sized lots. This book doesnt hold back describing and quoting the citizen and political players in this battle as well as the developers who felt thwarted in their legal rights. Its particularly interesting because most of the players are still active in city and neighborhood affairs. The authors probably overstate the David and Goliath theme in occasional egregious editorializing and supposed mind-reading, and the book also has disrupting grammatical and typographical errors. But the subject and its sequence of events are a good lesson in the prodigious strength of close-knit neighborhoods, the value that results from a sense of place, and how to organize a community to rally around issues of its quality of life. Goodwin, C. The Oak Park Strategy 1979 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979). Reviewer Info: Mary Beth Susman is in her second term as president of Denver City Council and is the councilwoman for District 5. Her focus is on smart development as her district has over 170 acres under development, including the Ninth and Colorado Boulevard site, and Boulevard One. She received her PhD from Denver University and spent her earlier career in higher education. She is a Smithsonian Laureate for her work in online learning, which is archived in the American history section of that institution.