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The Utah House approved a bill Thursday that would make it more difficult for citizens to create a neighborhood historic district after an effort in Salt Lake City's Yalecrest neighborhood caused deep divides among neighbors.

Under Rep. Brad Wilson's HB223, it would require a vote of at least two-thirds of those casting ballots representing a majority of all property owners in the proposed district in order to ask the city council to create a historic district.

For example, Wilson, R-Kaysville, said that if only 30 percent of voters in a proposed historic district vote, then just 15 percent of those affected could decide the fate of the other 85 percent of homeowners, who could then face restrictions on how they can maintain or improve their homes.

"Historic districts are something that, once they are done, they don't get undone and you lose control of what can and cannot be done to the exterior of your home or property," said Wilson.

If an initiative is tried and fails, the residents can't bring the proposal back for four years.

Rep. Jack Draxler, R-Logan, said the bill would put an unfair burden on the citizen-led historic district process, while doing nothing to change the process the city council goes through to create a district.

"I fear this is a bill designed to put greater control on the locals than most other processes that involve the neighborhood," he said. "I just think it creates a threshold that is unreasonable for the state to be imposing on a neighborhood."

Wilson's bill passed the House 53-13 — with all but one Democrat opposing it — and goes to the Senate for consideration.

— Robert Gehrke