The City of Saline’s historic preservation efforts were a recurring theme at the Nov. 18 city council meeting.
The city’s Historic District Commission, which established and oversees three historic districts in Saline, appears to be rising to a challenge that threatened its state certification.
In 2018, the city learned that if it wanted to retain its historic districts, it would need to meet several demands from the Michigan’s State Historic Preservation Office. The state was asking for an ordinance review, fewer vacancies on the commission, a conflict of interest policy, continuous property surveying, more complete meeting minutes, and more prominent noting of Saline’s historic sites.
Saline is among the 20 of Michigan’s 533 villages and cities that have certified historic districts. Having a state-certified historic district can come in handy when the city applies for grants. It also grants the city unique controls over changes to structures within the districts.
Maile Weberlein, the city’s assistant treasurer, is the city’s staff liaison to the historic district commission and has been the point person on getting the HDC to state standards.
There were five corrective actions recommended after the state’s evaluation in 2019.
“We said what we’d do. The (state Historic Preservation Office) responded with guidance on the things that needed to be corrected by Dec. 31,” Weberlein said. “All of the issues have been addressed to their satisfaction.”
The city and HDC adopted a new conflict of interest policy consistent with the National Park Service’s policy.
The HDC began taking more detailed minutes in July.
The HDC developed a plan for ongoing surveys, which includes three new local historic districts. It also includes a plan for updating existing historic district records.
In other news, the city approved a request to install new signs at the city-owned Depot Museum at 402 N Ann Arbor St. Signs will be on the Depot building, on the caboose and one on the railing. The new signs are funded by the Saline Area Historical Society, which manages the city’s historic museums.
The city also approved a request to place antennas of a new internet provider on structures at the Rentschler Farm Museum and Depot Museum. A 24-inch antenna will be placed on the Rentschler Farm Museum and a 16-inch antenna on the Depot Museum. The new internet service is expected to save about $960 a year and provide better service. The city hopes better internet service might allow for security cameras to help protect the museums. Improved internet might also provide public wifi, self-guided tours and other features.