At first glance a historic district appears to be separate from the purpose of an Environmental Advisory Committee at the township or county level. For townships without a historic preservation committee or historic zoning ordinances, establishing these ordinances can be an essential tool in land preservation and protection, one of the major goals of an EAC. The designation of a property, a structure or an area as historical or part of a historic district gives it certain legal protections through the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and various Pennsylvania laws along with access to federal, state, local and private funding sources.
The reasons for and benefits of historic preservation and historic districts by an EAC are:
1.) To preserve and protect the disappearing culture and history of “small town America”. This
includes preserving and encouraging traditional agricultural practices that are often safer than
the modern ones. Traditional methods using crop rotation, a large diversity of crops instead of
monoculture, tasty and hardy resistant “heirloom” varieties and manure for fertilizer are much
safer than the modern use of agricultural chemicals, flavorless vegetables, monoculture and
genetically modified crops.
2.) To encourage small businesses which are owned and run by residents of the community. The
businesses employ family members and other community residents. This increases the
local employment rate and encourages community participation by the business. Fuel
consumption is decreased as employees can often walk to their jobs or they commute a much
shorter distance than someone from outside the immediate area.
3.) Small business owners are more sensitive to the needs of the community, more responsive and
more responsible to the community since they are residents of the community. They usually will
not destroy their “backyards” because they live there and have social/family pressure to not harm
4.) Protecting the historic buildings and the history of the community prevents businesses from
establishing that are not owned locally and are not as sensitive or responsible to the community
as locally owned and run businesses.
5.) A historic district can become a cultural center encouraging, displaying and selling the art, music
and hand crafts of the local area. For people to visit a cultural center requires that the area be
6.) Preserving historic buildings is a lot cheaper and uses fewer natural resources than erecting new
buildings which often do not fit into the cultural or environmental landscape of the community.
7.) Once a historic district is registered with the U.S. National Register of Historic Places there is
money available for preservation and restoration from the State of Pennsylvania and the U.S.
8.) The Small Business Administration and chambers of commerce have expertise and often money
available to help small businesses and make them successful, enriching their community.
9.) If Community Supported Agriculture is tied into the historic district by way of a farmer’s market or
fruit and vegetable stand, there are the added benefits of farm protection and healthier foods,
usually at a lower price than found at a supermarket. At the same time, a small business is created, supported and protected.
Inherently, any time land is protected from development or other forms of degradation/destruction by historic preservation, the environment is protected. If a municipality has an Environmental Advisory Committee, but lacks a Historic Preservation Committee, then the EAC has the ability and right to fill this void.