Kansas Court Finds Religious Exercise Would Not Be Substantially Burdened in State Preservation Law Case

Posted on: July 25th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Bethany Place - Photo Credit: Kansas Preservation Alliance, Inc.

On July 21, 2008 the Shawnee County District Court set aside the Topeka City Council’s decision under the Kansas Historic Preservation Act, that there were no feasible and prudent alternatives to the construction of a new parking lot for Grace Cathedral, to be located in the environs of Bethany Place, the site of Bethany College, the first women's college in Kansas. The City had approved the project despite a finding by the Kansas Historic Preservation Officer, that the proposed project would “encroach upon, damage or destroy the Bethany Place site” because it would necessitate the removal of several historic trees and change the relationship between two historic buildings on the site and the street.

In a detailed, 57-page decision, the court sharply criticized the city for ignoring evidence that feasible and prudent alternatives to the proposed parking lot existed and for granting the permit upon the threat of litigation under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). Significantly, the court stated a decision to deny the Cathedral’s parking lot project would not rise to the level of a “direct and substantial burden” on religious exercise.

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

J. Jackson Walter, 1940-2008

Posted on: July 24th, 2008 by Sarah Heffern

 

Jack Walter, former president of the National Trust for Historic PreservationAs noted on Monday, former National Trust for Historic Preservation President J. Jackson Walter died unexpectedly on July 18, 2008. Today's Washington Post features an article about his career, including his time leading our organization:

In 1984, Mr. Walter was appointed president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, established in 1949 as a congressionally chartered protector of historic properties.

He said he wanted the organization "to be a major central figure in public debates about what our cities should look like, where tall building should go, and try to put historic preservation right in the middle of those debates instead of at the end."

Read the entire article online here.

Jack is already missed by his friends and colleagues here at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern is the social media strategist for the National Trust’s Public Affairs team. While she embraces all things online and pixel-centric, she’s also a hard-core building hugger, having fallen for preservation in a fifth grade “Built Environment” class. Follow her on Twitter at @smheffern.

Historic Homes go Green in Britain

Posted on: July 23rd, 2008 by Patrice Frey

 

So lately I’ve been trying to increase my tolerance for heat and run my home air conditioner a lot less. DC in the summer is the perfect environment for such a quest -- aren't we lucky! My electricity bill hit a record high in June of $33 to cool my 500 sq ft condo (compare this to spring low of $12.) Okay, I just told a tiny lie there. My condo is actually about 450 square feet – but I’m trying to make myself feel better.

Now, I know $33 is cheap these days, and there are many others with summer electricity bills far higher. Nonetheless, I’m on a mission: keep my bill under $20 during July. Granted, I’m not quite as committed as Jeffrey and Brenda Marchant who were profiled in a recent New York Times article Trying to Build a Greener Britain, Home by Home. Mr. Marchant has kept electricity logs for his home since 1960, and thanks to a handy new gadget, can track his energy usage in real time using a smart energy meter.

The villages of Brighton and neighboring Hove, where the Marchants live, have succeeded in lowering their carbon emissions by 50% in recent years, in part through steps like smart metering. But there’s more to this story. 

The Marchants live in a historic Victorian home and have significantly improved their energy usage through retrofits and behavioral changes. The article notes that many families in these two villages have made their historic houses eco-friendly, and “done it through inexpensive and nearly invisible interventions, like under-roof insulation, solar water heaters and hallway meters, that leave their homes still looking like old Victorian houses.” 

The Marchants, for example, have reduced their energy consumption with just two structural modifications to their home -- installing a solar water heating panel and insulating their attic. Another couple in the article resorted to much more drastic measures – though it wasn’t clear what the impact was on the appearance of their house.

It’s hard not to envy the British…they are just so much farther ahead on understanding the value of existing buildings, and promoting retrofits -- thanks in large part to a government that is far more progressive on these issues. We’ve got a lot further to go on this side of the pond... but I'm optimistic that things will change with what I hope will be increased focus on global warming after the election.   

Let's hope that optimism isn't just the heat affecting my judgement.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Notes from New Orleans: Jackson Barracks

Posted on: July 22nd, 2008 by Walter Gallas 2 Comments

 

Jackson Barracks, New OrleansJackson Barracks dates to 1835, when it was established to house the Federal garrison at New Orleans. It saw service during the Mexican War, the Civil War, and both World Wars. Reflecting the time period of its initial approval by the United States War Department, the historic officers' and enlisted men's quarters around a central parade ground survive as a unique collection of Greek Revival buildings in one spot. It is now the home of the Louisiana National Guard.

Located as it is at the Orleans-St. Bernard Parish line at the downriver boundary of New Orleans, Jackson Barracks suffered considerable flooding and damage as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

The damage notwithstanding, the state has committed to rebuilding the installation. With those plans comes Section 106 historic preservation review, since FEMA funds will be used.

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

A Loss for the Trust, Preservation Movement

Posted on: July 21st, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

I am saddened to report that Jack Walter, the sixth president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation from 1984 to 1992, died unexpectedly this past weekend.

Jack Walter was a passionate preservationist who cared deeply about the special places that are our legacy from the past. Using the skills and experience he had acquired in a long and distinguished public-service career, he led the National Trust for Historic Preservation to become the strong, effective organization it was meant to be -- and helped bring new life to historic buildings, neighborhoods and landscapes from coast to coast. All of us who work to keep America's heritage intact and alive are deeply in his debt.

-- Richard Moe, President, National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.