The Local Review Board of the Idyllwild Historic Preservation District discussed the Mills Act and the new parking area in town at its meeting Thursday.

In September, LRB hosted a meeting to inform local property owners of the opportunities for historic preservation. The state’s Mills Act provides property-tax relief in exchange for an equivalent investment in the historic property. The owners commit to restore, rehabilitate, repair and preserve the historic property.

In order to be eligible, the local, county or state government must designate the property as possessing historic value. All properties within the Idyllwild Historic Preservation District that have been designated as contributing to its historicity would be eligible.

Apparently, the September meeting, to which about 20 people attended, did not ignite much local response seeking a county ordinance to use the Mills Act for IHPD properties. LRB member Ron Kammeyer asked if anything new had occurred since the public meeting, and he and other board members were disappointed in the response.

“I have not had any contact from property owners in Idyllwild regarding the question on the Mills Act nor from the supervisor’s [Washington] office.” said LRB staff Keith Herron, the Riverside County chief of resources and planning.

Herron apparently did call Washington’s office and was told they had heard nothing from Idyllwild residents.

When LRB Chair Warren Monroe asked what the LRB could do to pursue any action, Herron suggested he could raise the topic at the next county Historical Commission meeting. But he stressed the importance of property owners seeking the Mills Act benefits in order for the Board of Supervisors to take any necessary action.

Sanders Chase, an owner of several Idyllwild properties, asked the LRB if it had any authority regulating the construction of a parking lot between North Circle Drive and Cedar Street (see the Jan. 21 Town Crier issue).

Both Monroe and Herron said LRB only has authority over the modification of existing structures and some new construction.

Modification of an existing structure’s exterior architectural features can be reviewed. “Placement or removal of items affecting the exterior visual qualities of an existing building” are included, too, and require an Alteration Permit.

Further, the Design Guidelines state, “Projects that only affect non-contributing resources to the Historic District are also exempt from review.”

A new parking lot that did not require razing any existing structures is outside the purview of the LRB, Herron said. “New construction is not addressed by the district guidelines. If any ordinance were applicable, it might be the one on removal of trees.”