At last week’s meeting, the Idyllwild Historic Preservation District’s Local Review Board heard from its staff, Keith Herron, resources bureau chief, for the Parks and Open Space District, about work on a building within the district.

The site is the former Pony Express, and before that the Grey Squirrel, which Chris Johnston, of Middle Ridge Winery, has purchased and is renovating. Herron said that he has met with Johnston and reviewed the plans for renovating the building.

“The building is within the district, but all the alterations are internal,” Herron told the Board. “It doesn’t pertain to us.”

When Johnston applied for his planning permits, the county’s planning department referred him to Herron, in case a Historic Alteration Permit would be needed. After reviewing the plans and meeting with Johnston, Herron concluded that the work did not require any involvement from the LRB.

In summary, LRB Chair Warren Monroe said, “We have no action.”

The Board also discussed its plans for the Mills Act meeting, which took place Tuesday evening at the Idyllwild Library. Herron confirmed that notices for the meeting had been mailed to property owners within the District. Monroe confirmed that several had already responded with interest.

Herron will discuss the IHPD guidelines, explain the procedures for using the Mills Act, and provide a copy of the Riverside City ordinance implementing it, as well as an example of its application to property tax. The Mills Act provides property tax relief to an owner in exchange for an equivalent investment in the historic property. The owners commit to restore, rehabilitate, repair and preserve the historic property.

The meeting’s purpose is to discuss the benefits of the Act for IHPD properties and what the process might encompass. All properties within the Idyllwild Historic Preservation District that have been designated as contributing to its historicity would be eligible.