AUBURN — Auburn's Historic Resources Review Board explored a proposal on Tuesday that calls on expanding the city's South Street Historic District. The original proposal would almost double the size of the current district, putting over 300 more properties up for consideration. 

The city is applying for two separate grants to fund the district expansion. A new region has not been finalized, and a good portion of the original proposal could be cut.

Due in late March, grant application summaries will be presented March 7 to city council before they're officially submitted.  

The district currently encompasses areas of South Street and the side streets of Elizabeth Street, Fitch Avenue, Grover Street, Hamilton Avenue, MacDougall Street, Swift Street and William Street. Any projects that fall within district boundaries that could change the appearance of any building require HHRB's approval so that historical significance is preserved. 

As an incentive for restoration and rehabilitation, historic properties can enroll to become exempt from any tax assessment increases. These properties can apply to be 100-percent exempt from assessment increases for five years. Each following year, the percentage will be reduced by 20 percent, until it reaches zero after a total of 10 years.

The grants, said Auburn Planning Assistant Holly Glor, are fairly competitive. 

"The city has previously applied for CLG grants prior to 2002 ... we didn't receive them," she said. "Since then, competition has only grown, but from what I know, we can be a strong competitor for them as the state is in favor of this (expansion) project."

Although the original expansion proposal was chopped up by the HRRB, the board favors expanding the district in general. HRRB member Richard Stankus said adding Fort Hill Cemetery to the district is a priority of his. 

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Staff writer Dan Orzechowski can be reached at (315) 282-2239 or dan.orzechowski@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @OrzechowskiDan.