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Residents in historic district in uproar over renovation
By: Gina Benitez
EL PASO, Texas -- A new owner makes some changes to a historic home in the historical Manhattan Heights District.
Problem is, he doesn't have the permits to do it.
A few weeks ago, 1315 Elm St. was a construction zone.
"It's great that people want to fix up properties and stuff in historic districts and so forth, however the issue is there's guidelines they have to follow that stipulate what they can and cannot do," said Craig Peters, president of the Manhattan Heights neighborhood association.
The home was built in 1915.
Close to 100 years later, a new owner wants to make some changes -- changes that weren't approved by the city.
Residents report original doors were pulled off and original windows busted out.
"There was work going on without a permit. So we issued a stop-work order and a correction notice, which they complied with," said Elda Hefner, code compliance manager with the city of El Paso.
The house is historically protected, and the new owner didn't approve his plans with the historical land commission -- which is procedure.
Homeowners fear the integrity of their neighborhood is being compromised, and their homes may depreciate in value.
"You can see there's some places there at the house where they've already taken out some of the windows, where they've already started to do some concrete work," said Larry Romero, District 2 city representative.
Romero said it was brought to his attention about two weeks back.
"Right now, we're in the process of trying to set up a meeting with the historical landmark commission, the city's code compliance division, the city attorney and the owner of the property to let them know, 'Look, these are the proper steps you need to take," Romero said.
Peters says going forward, he hopes the city steps up. Not just for Manhattan Heights and the other historical districts in town, but for El Paso as a whole.
"I'm hoping the city will really start taking the notice to their historic districts, because it is our culture, it is our heritage, it's respect to the individuals that were here before," Peters said.