What is the Tax Exemption?
Yes, it’s true! The City of McKinney has a program to preserve the city’s unique and historic neighborhoods while encouraging property owners to maintain and/or rehabilitate their residences. To reward you for your efforts, the City will waive your City ad valorem taxes for 7 years. Unlike some state and national landmark recognition programs, this program does not add restrictions to your property. It merely rewards you for observing the City ordinances that are already in place.
The plan is called the Historic Neighborhood Improvement Zone Program. It is administered by the City’s Historic Preservation Officer, Guy Giersch, 972-547-7416.
Applying for Tax Exemption
If your home is eligible you can apply for the exemption using the forms provided on the City’s website. The application involves producing what amounts to a research paper that provides a narrative describing the past owners and/or tenants. Also required are historical pictures or references, and a description of the architectural significance of the house.
The application process happens in two steps,
- for the Historic Building Marker, and
- for the actual exemption.
Applications are first reviewed by the Historic Preservation Officer (HPO) for completeness and compliance. Upon approval the HPO sends a staff report to the Historic Preservation Advisory Board (HPAB) for final approval or denial. Once the approval of the historic marker is made the home-owner can apply for the tax exemption. This means there are two applications to submit but in reality they can be submitted simultaneously.
Filling out the Historic Building Marker application is a lot like writing a research paper. You are required to gather the following information about your house:
- Provide date of construction and list known alterations to your property.
- List historical figures associated with you property.
- Provide the legal description of your property.
- Provide an ownership and tenant history of your property.
- Describe your home’s architectural style, materials, and characteristics.
- Write a narrative explaining your property’s historical development.
- Provide current site plan scketch.
- Provide Sanborn Map showing home’s original neighborhood context.
- If possible provide at least one historic photograph of your house.
- Provide current photos of each side of your house.
- Provide any additional information that supports the application.
- Site references to source material used in your research.
This is a lot of work but it can be fun if you have the time. I can guarantee you will increase your understanding and appreciation of what a special city McKinney is. The Holy Grail of your research is a historical photograph. These are indeed rare. However, if you don’t have one, don’t let that stop you from beginning your application. You may uncover one in your research.
Your Contribution Is Important
Keeping McKinney historical can only be achieved if we direct our attention and efforts toward that end. The forces of modernity can turn our town into just another suburb if we don’t take action to remember our past and value the architectural forms that have become extinct in other North Texas town.
If you have a home that is eligible for the tax exemption, but don’t have the time to research you home and complete the application, please allow me to do it for you. I guarantee my fee will be less than what you save in the first year. That means, you come out ahead in the first year. Also, the story of your home and its inhabitants will be recorded so that which makes McKinney special will not be forgotten. Please contact me at your convenience. I look forward to helping you.