The city of Highland has published a pamphlet aimed at providing owners of homes in Highland’s Historic District with information on the Mills Act, which offers property owners tax savings to be used to maintain and restore their historically significant homes.
The Historic and Cultural Preservation Board approved the pamphlets during its Oct. 3 meeting in order to inform and encourage Highland homeowners to take advantage of the tax savings and continue to invest in the upkeep of the city’s historic properties.
Shortly after approval, the city mailed out the pamphlets to the 134 eligible properties.
The Mills Act, enacted in 1972, allows local governments to enter contracts with property owners for tax abatements for qualified historic buildings to encourage investment into preservation and restoration of culturally contributing buildings by private owners.
In Highland, eligible properties are those designated as “contributing properties” within the Highland Historic District.
Since the city began its renewed effort to publicize its Mills Act program several homeowners have turned in applications.
The city council approved a Mills Act contract for William Lennick during its Nov. 26 meeting. The 10-year contract requires that Lennick complete an agreed upon list of improvement and maintenance projects within that time, with 5-year inspections.
The projects on the contract include new windowsills, new bathroom flooring, new kitchen cabinetry and reinstallation of the original front door.
While speaking to the council, Lennick shared that his primary goal with the tax relief funds is to repair interior and exterior termite damage to his Main Street home, built in 1901.
“I want to make sure I bring the home to close to original,” Lennick said of the work. “I want to make sure I don’t run out of funds and the tax savings will actually give me a little more room to do things I just wouldn’t be able to do.”
The 2-story craftsman is similar in style to Pasadena houses of Arthur S. Heinemann and Greene and Greene.
According to Associate Planner Ash Syed, the pamphlets have raised interest in the city’s Mills Act program with three to four entering applications so far.
The pamphlets include information on eligibility, calculating possible tax savings and how the 10-year contracts work. They are available at city hall.