Reviewable Actions

Local Preservation Laws
| Authority to Regulate Property | Historic Designations | Reviewable Actions |
| Maintenance Requirements | Economic Hardship | Appeals and Enforcement | Other Land Use Laws

Preservation Law 101

| Federal Preservation Laws | State Preservation Laws | Local Preservation Laws | Constitutional Issues |

Historic preservation ordinances generally empower preservation commissions to review and act upon applications for certificates of appropriateness (sometimes called "certificates of approval" or "historic area work permits"). Most often, owners of property subject to a preservation ordinance must submit an application to a preservation commission for permission to alter, demolish, move, or construct additions and new buildings. Requests for change are evaluated at a public hearing based upon standards for review set forth in the ordinance. The commission will generally issue a formal decision, making specific findings of fact and conclusions of law. (A commission must determine what the facts are, apply those facts to the standards in the ordinance, and then reach a conclusion.) Permission is typically granted in the form of a permit or certificate of appropriateness.

The extent of control over requests to demolish historic structures varies from state to state, depending upon a state's enabling law, and from community to community within a state. Many localities allow for the demolition of historic properties only in cases where a property owner establishes economic hardship or the property poses a safety threat after a fire or other type of natural disaster. Some communities, however, permit property owners to demolish historic properties after a specific waiting period, during which time a city or town, along with private preservation groups, can explore alternative actions to save the building. Some communities also condition the issuance of a demolition permit upon a showing that a new building will actually be constructed (i.e., by showing that plans and financing are sufficiently finalized) and that the building will be compatible with other historic resources in the area.

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Design Review in Historic Districts
An explanation of the design review process, the role of the historic district commission, design guidelines, legal issues, and the significance of certified local government status.