By Midge Pierce

The Feds return of the state’s paperwork on the Eastmoreland National Historic District containing 5000 potentially unverifiable trust objections may open the door for re-submission and provide an interesting test case for the future of the program.

The National Park Service that manages the designation returned the nomination due to the state’s failure to determine the validity of the numerous trust objections, according to a pro-historic district group filing a state lawsuit to revisit the nomination.

Historic Eastmoreland Achieving Results Together (HEART) says the nomination contained fraudulent objection-stacking by “extremists” that threatens the integrity of the national nomination process.

HEART co-founder Derek Blum warns that abuse tactics, if allowed, could exploit other historic district nominations and wreak havoc on the entire National Registry program.

Blum says the Park Service sent the nomination back to the state after receiving more than 300 notifications of concerns about owner and objection counts, along with 10 notarized letters from owners rescinding previous objections.

“We applaud the National Park Service for recognizing the systematic danger of allowing manufactured trusts to object to a historic district nomination, and we are fighting this deceitful tactic on behalf of any community that wants historic district designation.”

A HEART press release contends that the National Park Service requests for “documentation of trust instruments from trust creators were never provided.” Both the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation urged the National Park Service to not recognize objections from “dubious” trusts.

“If the five property owners at issue had not created the 5,000 trusts, and had instead been counted as five (5) owners with five (5) objections, it appears that a majority of the private property owners would not have objected to listing,” said Blum.

Residents of Laurelhurst, who are in the process of preparing a nomination for their neighborhood, anxiously await further word. Blum worries the lack of a timeline for a new determination will allow demolitions to go unchecked as the clock ticks on City Council’s likely implementation of the residential infill program (RIP).