What Is a Preservation Ordinance?


A preservation ordinance is local legislation created to protect buildings and neighborhoods from destruction or thoughtless rehabilitation.  In general, local laws are stronger than federal laws, so a local historic preservation ordinance provides the real defense against inappropriate exterior remodeling and demolition within the historic district.  Its special strength comes as the combined voice of residents, the majority of who agreed to use local laws as a tool to preserve the historic character of their homes, businesses, and streetscapes. Open discussion and debate of all affected by the process is crucial to its success.  A preservation ordinance does such things as establish an objective and democratic process for designation historic properties, protect the integrity of designated historic properties within a design review requirement, and authorize design guidelines for new development within historic districts to ensure it is not destructive to the area's historic character.  Generally, a local preservation ordinance does not restrict the sale of the property, require improvements, changes, or restoration of the property, prevent new construction in historic areas, or require approval of interior alterations or ordinary maintenance. For more information on local preservation ordinances, contact the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions.