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HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION

The Historic Preservation Commission shall:

Promote the educational, cultural, economic and general welfare of the public through the recognition, enhancement and perpetuation of sites and districts of historical and cultural significance;

Safeguard the city’s historic, aesthetic and cultural heritage by preserving sites and districts of historic and cultural significance;

Stabilize and improve property values;

Foster pride in the legacy of beauty and achievements of the past;

Protect and enhance the city’s attractions to tourists and visitors and the support and stimulus to business thereby provided;

Strengthen the economy of the city; and

Promote the use of sites and districts of historic and cultural significance as places for the education, pleasure and welfare of the people of the city.

 The following definitions shall apply unless the context clearly indicates or requires a different meaning.

  •  ALTERATION. Any act of process which changes the exterior architectural appearance of a structure, site or area, including but not limited to, the erection, construction, rehabilitation, reconstruction, restoration, removal or demolition of any structure or part thereof, excavation, or the addition of an improvement. This definition excludes routine maintenance.
  •  CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS. A certificate issued by the Historic Preservation Commission approving any alteration or improvement to an individual site or property, property with a Historic Overlay District or a property within a designated historic preservation district.
  •  COMMISSION. The Clinton Historic Preservation Commission, as established by this subchapter.
  •  DESIGN GUIDELINES FOR HISTORIC PROPERTIES. The Secretary of Interior’s Standards of Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings and design guidelines developed by the Historic Preservation Commission.
  • HISTORIC DISTRICT. An area which contains a significant portion of buildings, structures or other improvements which, considered as a whole, possess integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association, and which area as a whole:
  • Embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period or method of construction, or represents the work of a master, or possesses high artistic values, or represents a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction;
  • Is associated with events that have made significant contributions to the broad patterns of our local, state or national history;
  • Possesses a coherent and distinctive visual character or integrity based upon similarity of scale, design, color, setting, workmanship, materials or combinations thereof which is deemed to add significantly to the value and attractiveness of properties within the area;
  • Is associated with the lives of persons significant in our past; or
  • Has yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history.
  •  HISTORIC LANDMARK. A site and structure or building which:
  • Is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of the city’s history;
  • Is associated with the lives of persons significant in our past;
  • Embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period or method of construction or represents the work of a master, or possesses high artistic values, or represents a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction; or
  • Has yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history.
  •  HISTORIC OVERLAY DISTRICT. The official zoning district map designation for properties or areas designated as a historic district.
  •  STATE. The Iowa State Historic Preservation Office, Historical Division of the Department of Cultural Affairs.
  •  SUBSTANTIAL HARDSHIP. A hardship, caused by unusual and compelling circumstances, based on one or more of the following:
  • There are no other reasonable means of saving the property from deterioration or collapse; and/or

  • The property is owned by a nonprofit organization and it is not feasible financially or physically to achieve the charitable purposes of the organization while maintaining the property appropriately.

 The Commission shall consist of seven members who are residents of the city.

 Members of the Commission shall be appointed by the Mayor with the approval of the City Council. Members shall demonstrate a positive interest in historic preservation, possessing interest or expertise in architecture, architectural history, historic preservation, city planning, building rehabilitation, conservation in general or real estate. At least one member shall have expertise in history and one member shall have expertise in architecture. Each historic district shall have a representative on the Commission.

The Commission members are appointed for staggered terms of six years.

Vacancies occurring in the Commission, other than expiration of term of office, shall be only for the unexpired portion of the term of the member replaced. Vacancies shall be filled by the Mayor with the approval of the Council.

 Members shall serve without compensation.

A simple majority of the Commission shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.

The Commission shall elect a Chairperson who shall preside over all Commission meetings and elect a Secretary who shall be responsible for maintaining written records of the Commission’s proceedings. The Commission shall adopt its own rules of operation.

The Commission shall meet at least monthly.

The Commission may conduct inventory studies for the identification and designation of historic districts and sites meeting the definitions established by this subchapter. The Commission may proceed at its own initiative or upon a petition from any person, group or association.

The Commission shall maintain records of all studies and inventories for public use.

The Commission may make a recommendation to the state for the listing of a district or single property in the National Register of Historic Places and may conduct a public hearing thereon.

The Commission may investigate and recommend to the Council the adoption of ordinances designating historic landmarks and historic districts if they qualify as defined herein.

 The Commission shall review all projects, requiring a building permit or demolition permit, that are located within a designated historic district or that have been designated a historic landmark to consider the issuance of a certificate of appropriateness.

 In addition to those duties and powers specified above, the Commission may, with Council approval:

  • Accept unconditional gifts and donations of real and person property, including money, for the purpose of historic preservation;
  • Acquire in the name of the city, by purchase, bequest or donation, fee and lesser interests in historic properties, including properties adjacent to or associated with historic properties;
  • Preserve, restore, maintain and operate historic properties under the ownership or control of the Commission;
  • Recommend to the City Council for lease, sale, transfer or disposal of historic properties subject to rights of public access and other covenants and in a manner that will preserve the property;
  • Contract, with the approval of the City Council, with state or federal government or other organizations;
  • Cooperate with federal, state and local governments in the pursuance of the objectives of historic preservation;
  • Provide information for the purpose of historic preservation to the City Council; and
  • Promote and conduct an educational and interpretive program on historic properties within its jurisdiction.

Historic Overlay Districts shall be designated in the following manner. Any person may request the designation of an area as a historic district by submitting a written application for the designation to the Commission. The application must contain the following information:

  •  A petition must contain the signatures of at least 80% of the property owners within the proposed district;
  • A map showing the boundaries of the proposed district and the lots that lie within it and a list of names and addresses of property owners within the district;
  • Description of the proposed district, including a statement of significance which describes how the district, or individual property, meets the significance criteria in this subchapter; and
  • Sketches, photographs or drawings showing the property or properties and streetscapes and fully completed state site inventory forms for the properties to be included.

 Upon receipt of the application for designating a historic district, the Commission shall submit the petition and the application to the state for review and comment. The state’s comments on the proposed designation will be made available to the public.

The Commission shall hold a public hearing concerning the proposed designation. Notice of public hearing shall be published and all affected property owners must be notified by ordinary mail prior to the hearing. At the public hearing, comments will be accepted concerning the establishment of the historic district. After hearing all comments and other relevant information, the Commission shall determine if the area is an area of historic significance that meets one or more of the following:

  •  Has integrity of location, design, setting, materials, skill, feeling and association;
  • Embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, method of construction, represents the work of a master, possesses high artistic value, represents a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction;
  • Is associated with events that have been a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our local, state or national history;
  • Is associated with the lives of persons significant in our past; and/or
  • Has yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history.

The Commission shall prepare an ordinance designating the district and submit the ordinance to the state for review and comment.

The Commission shall submit the application, statement of significance and context, proposed ordinance and state’s comments to the City Council. Upon receipt, the City Council shall:

  •  Hold a public hearing;
  • At the public hearing, consider whether the application for the Historic Overlay District or historic landmark demonstrates that the significance criterion or criteria are met;
  • Will either approve if the application meets the significance criteria or deny the designation if the criteria fails to meet the designation; and
  • Written notification on the public hearing shall be mailed to all property owners within the proposed historic district and the following:

          Building Official, City Clerk and Planner Director.

If approved, the petition shall be submitted to the City Plan Commission, for review, to amend the zoning map designating the area as a Historic Overlay District. The Historic Overly District may be combined with any zoning district established in the city’s zoning regulations and shall be shown on the official zoning map. The City Planner shall notify the Building Official and the City Engineer of the designation. When so designated, any improvement requiring a building permit or demolition permit shall be subject to the provisions set forth.

 Any person may request the designation of a historic landmark by submitting a written application for the designation to the Historic Preservation Commission. The application must contain the following information:

  • A map showing the boundaries of the proposed historic landmark and the name and address of the property owner;
  • Description of the proposed historic landmark, including a statement of significance which describes how the site meets the significance criteria in this subchapter; and
  • Sketches, photographs or drawings of the property and fully completed Iowa Site Inventory Form for the property.

 Upon receipt of a request, and before taking further action, the Historic Preservation Commission shall contact the property owner and obtain their consent to have their property designated as a historical landmark.

 Upon receipt of the application for designating a historic landmark, the Commission shall submit the application to the state for review and comment. The state’s comments on the proposed designation will be made available to the public.

The Commission shall hold a public hearing concerning the proposed designation. Notice of public hearing shall be published and all affected property owners must be notified by ordinary mail prior to the hearing. At the public hearing, comments will be accepted concerning the establishment of the historic landmark. After hearing all comments and other relevant information, the Commission shall determine if the area is an area of historic significance that meets one or more of the following:

  •  Has integrity of location, design, setting, materials, skill, feeling and association;
  • Embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, method of construction, represents the work of a master, possesses high artistic value, represents a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction;
  • Is associated with events that have been a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our local, state or national history;
  • Is associated with the lives of persons significant in our past; and/or
  • Has yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history.

The Commission shall prepare an ordinance designating the historic landmark and submit the ordinance to the state for review and comment.

The Commission shall submit the application, statements of significance and contexts, proposed ordinance and state’s comments to the City Council. Upon receipt, the City Council shall:

  •  Hold a public hearing;
  • At the public hearing, consider whether the application for the historic landmark demonstrates that the significance criterion or criteria are met;
  • Will either approve if the application meets the significance criteria or deny the designation if the criteria fails to meet the designation;
  • Written notification of the public hearing shall be mailed to the owners of the proposed historic site and the following:

         Building Official,  City Clerk and City Planner.

 If approved, the application shall be submitted to the City Plan Commission for review to amend the zoning map designating the historic landmark as an Historic Overlay District. The Historic Overly District may be combined with any zoning district established in the city’s zoning regulations and shall be shown on the official zoning map. The City Planner will notify the Building Official and City Engineer of the designation. When so designated, any improvement requiring a building permit or demolition permit shall be subject to the provisions set forth in this subchapter.

The Commission shall review all projects requiring a building permit or demolition permit that are located within a designated historic district or that have been designated a historic landmark to consider the issuance of a certificate of appropriateness. The Community Development Department shall forward a copy of all demolition and building permit applications related to any designated historic district or historic landmark to the Historic Preservation Commission.

An application for a certificate of appropriateness shall be obtained from the Building Official, and when completed, filed with the appropriate administrative official as designated by the Commission.

 For projects requiring a building permit, the applicant shall submit a complete description of the project, including plans and photographs 30 days prior to the monthly meeting of the Commission. The applicant will be notified of the meeting and shall have the opportunity to present his or her request for a certificate of appropriateness.

The Commission’s review shall be based on the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and the Commission design guidelines.

The Commission shall approve, approve with modification or deny the issuance of the certificate. The findings of the Commission on each application shall be contained in a written resolution setting forth the full reason for its decision and the vote of each member participating therein. The resolution shall be placed on file for public inspection in the office of the City Clerk within ten business days after the meeting at which the application was acted upon. Thereafter, a copy of the resolution shall be sent to the applicant by ordinary mail. If the application is approved or approved with modifications acceptable to the applicant, a certificate of appropriateness will be issued, signed by the Chairperson, and immediately transmitted along with the application to the Building Official. If the application is disapproved, the application will be immediately transmitted, along with the written resolution of the Commission’s findings, to the Building Official.

Any person aggrieved by any provision of this subchapter may appeal to the City Council by filing a written appeal with City Clerk. The appeal shall state the reasons why the decision is being contested.

 Repealing historic district designation.

 Eighty percent of the property owners within a designated historic district may file an appeal to the City Council requesting rescinding an area’s designation as a historic district.

The rescinding process will proceed in the same manner as the original designation process. The petition will be accompanied by an application which contains the following:

  •  A map showing the boundaries of the designated historic district and the names and addresses of all property owners;
  • Description of the historic district including a statement which describes why the district no longer meets the significance criteria in this subchapter; and
  • Sketches, photographs or drawings of the property or fully completed state site inventory forms for the properties in the district, documenting that the district no longer meets the significance criteria.

The Historic Preservation Commission will consider the request to rescind at a public hearing. The Commission will convey its recommendation regarding the request to the Mayor and City Council for their consideration within ten days following the public hearing.

Upon receipt of the recommendation, the City Council shall schedule a public hearing to consider same at a specific place, date and time, not more than 30 days after the receipt, by giving notice as required by law.

The City Council, after public hearing, may approve or disapprove the Commission’s recommendation by a majority vote of its membership.

If not satisfied with the decision of the City Council, any party to the appeal before the City Council may appeal to the County District Court within 60 days after the Council’s decision.

The Historic Preservation Commission shall not have the power or authority to appeal a decision of the City Council to District Court.

 Repealing historic landmark designation.

 A historic landmark may be rescinded in the same manner as the original designation process. The petition will be accompanied by an application which contains the following:

  •  A map showing the boundaries of the designated historic landmark and the name and address of all property owners;
  • Description of the historic landmark including a statement which describes why the landmark no longer meets the significance criteria in this subchapter; and
  • Sketches, photographs or drawings of the property or fully completed state site inventory form for the landmark which documents that the landmark no longer meets the significance criteria.

 The Historic Preservation Commission will consider the request to rescind at a public hearing. The Commission will convey its recommendation regarding the request to the Mayor and City Council for their consideration within ten days following the public hearing.

Upon receipt of the recommendation, the City Council shall schedule a public hearing to consider same at a specific place, date and time, not more than 30 days after the receipt, by giving notice as required by law.

The City Council, after public hearing, may approve or disapprove the Commission’s recommendation by a majority vote of its membership.

If not satisfied with the decision of the City Council, any party to the appeal before the City Council may appeal to the County District Court within 60 days after the Council’s decision.

 Denial of certificate of appropriateness.

In the event a certificate of appropriateness is denied, the property owner may apply for an exemption based on the substantial hardship of maintaining the property according to the design guidelines for historic properties. Substantial hardship is to be considered by the Commission where one or more of the following unusual and compelling circumstances exists:

  •  There are no other reasonable means of saving the property from deterioration or collapse; and/or
  • The property is owned by a nonprofit organization and it is not feasible financially or physically to achieve the charitable purposes of the organization while maintaining the property appropriately.

The owner will be required to submit documents to show that he or she cannot comply with the design guidelines and earn a reasonable rate of return on his or her investment in the property. Information required will include:

  • Costs of the proposed development with and without modification needed to comply with the design guidelines as determined by the Commission;
  • Structural report and/or a feasibility report prepared by a qualified preservation architect or engineer;
  • Market value of the property in its present condition and after completion of the proposed project;
  • Cost of the property, date purchased, relationship, if any, between seller and buyer, terms of financing;
  • Annual gross income for the past two years from the property with operating and maintenance expenses, depreciation and annual cash flow before and after debt service during that time;
  • Any other information considered necessary by the Commission to determine whether or not the property may yield a reasonable return; and
  • If the property owner is a nonprofit organization, the organization will be asked to provide documentation that it is not feasible financially or physically to achieve the charitable purposes of the organization while maintaining the property appropriately.

If the Commission denies, or postpones for 180 days, a request to demolish a historic building, the Commission shall work closely with the owner to find an appropriate use for the property, to help find a buyer or to obtain funding for rehabilitation, including low interest loans or grants. The Commission shall inform the community concerning the threat to the building, its value as part of the fabric of the community and, through publicity and contacts with civic groups, seek to provide assistance in preserving the property.

When an applicant disagrees with the Commission’s decision to deny issuance of a certificate of substantial hardship or conditions attached to the certificate, an appeal shall be reviewed by the City Council. The Commission shall be submit a report to the City Council explaining the denial or required conditions.

When an applicant disagrees with City Council’s decision regarding issuance of a certificate of substantial hardship or conditions attached to the certificate, an appeal may be made to the County District Court.

Demolition permit. If denied a certificate of appropriateness for the demolition of a property, the property owners may appeal to the City Council on the grounds of economic hardship and follow the process outlined above.