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Tremonton is moving forward with plans to establish a historic district, a move that proponents say will make residents eligible for tax credits for certain improvements made to their homes while highlighting the city’s history.

The Tremonton City Council recently approved a contract with Storiagraph LLC of Salt Lake City to perform a reconnaissance survey of the city. The survey will focus on the central part of the city, from 300 South to 600 North and 400 West to 300 East, where most of the older homes are located.

A surveyor with Storiagraph will walk the streets within those boundaries, taking pictures and notes to determine whether there are enough homes that meet the standards for historic preservation status. If so, the city will submit an application to the National Park Service to be granted an official National Historic District.

The contract is for $9,860, but a matching grant from Utah Division of State History will pay for up to half of that amount, Tremonton City Manager Shawn Warnke said. City staff time devoted to the project can also be counted as matching funds to reduce the city’s cash expenditure on the project, Warnke said.

If the survey finds that enough homes meet the criteria and historic district status is granted, Warnke said property owners in the area could receive a 20 percent tax credit for eligible renovations or other improvements to homes.

“It’s as if your property is on the historic register, even though it’s not,” he said. “We hope to see people investing in and improving their homes. There’s a sense of place and pride that comes with recognizing our history, and having it recognized nationally as well.”

He stressed that participation in any such project would be voluntary, and a historic designation would not infringe upon anyone’s private property rights.

The effort also ties in with the city’s support for the designation of the Bear River National Heritage Area, a regional effort seeking to capitalize on the historical and cultural resources of communities within the Bear River drainage in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming.

Warnke said a graduate student conducted a survey in 2014 that found a large number of homes in the downtown area with “significant historic assets.”

“That suggested that we do have a good collection of buildings that could qualify for a historic district,” he said.

He said the survey work is scheduled to be completed by June 2020, after which the city will have enough information to determine whether it can move forward in seeking the historic district designation.

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