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Mpls. Neighborhood's 'Historic' Designation Causes Problems For Residents

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Families who live in the Homewood section of north Minneapolis say they're in a fight to protect their property rights.

Last April, the Historic Preservation Commission voted to nominate the neighborhood as a local historic district. With that came restrictions on all exterior repairs, causing anger among residents who say those repairs are now too expensive.

"This is our first house and we bought it in July of 2016," Homewood resident Megan Spurlin said.

Spurlin and her husband bought their dream home to raise their twin boys, Charlie and Harper. She says they got resistance from the Historic Preservation Commission when they tried to make repairs.

"We basically tried to get lead abatement and windows replaced on the house, and we're still waiting to hear whether they'll allow that or not," Spurlin said.

Spurlin says lead hazards in her home have had a negative impact on her children.

"We tested their lead levels right when we moved, and around Thanksgiving we found out both of them had lead poisoning," she said.

Spurlin says she was told to follow repair guidelines that she says would bust the family budget.

"I think it's morally wrong that the Historic Preservation Commission has taken the architectural design of our house and our windows and put that as precedence over my children's health," she said.

Neighbors rallied and collected the signatures of 161 of the 241 residents in Homewood, who oppose the historic designation.

"People are concerned about our property rights being taken away without the voice of the community being heard," Homewood resident Joe Fargione.

Fargione says Homewood was nominated for its rich Jewish history. He and others say they celebrate the neighborhood's diversity, but believe they should be able to retain the same right to affordably maintain their homes as others in Minneapolis.

For the first time since the interim designation last year, Homewood residents and members of the commission will have a public meeting to discuss the issue. Their voices will be heard tomorrow at the Historic Preservation Commission meeting at 4:30 p.m. in City Hall.

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