The Village of Hamburg has already lost many historic buildings, and the Historic Preservation Commission hopes to prevent any further damage.
During a lightly attended public information meeting Wednesday, a slide presentation by Joseph Streamer, a commission member and president of the Hamburg Historical Society, showed a business district from the late 1800s and early 1900s most would not recognize today.
Several significant buildings were lost to fire, and others have been "modernized" with facades that cover up their historic character, he said.
The commission plans to establish a Historic Central Business District that would take in more than 100 properties on Main Street between Lake Street and Buffalo Street and Buffalo Street from Union Street to Eighteen-Mile Creek.
"It's critical that we not lose any more" buildings, chairman Douglas Hutter said.
The commission plans to hold a public hearing next month on its plan to create the district.
Under it, property owners planning exterior renovations would have to obtain a "certificate of appropriateness" from the commission. (Interior changes would not be affected.)
But the idea is to work with property owners to show them the benefits of maintaining the historic character of buildings. Doing so demonstrates a commitment to quality that, when shared by surrounding property owners, increases values and spurs development, according to the commission.
There also can be economic benefits in the form of tax abatements on improvements, pending approval by the village, town and school district.
"We want to work with (property owners), not stand in their way," Village Trustee Laura Hackathorn said.
The Village Board, which would have the power to overrule commission decisions on renovations, has not committed itself to the new district. But Hackathorn said she has not heard any negative comments from other board members.