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* The city has had a historic district ordinance in place since 1999. Its historic neighborhoods and cultural institutions have attracted residents and visitors for decades. The city's 2030 Master Plan emphasizes the importance of historic districts for the city’s future.
* Updates to the ordinance now under discussion are driven by recommendations by the State Historic Preservation Office that city ordinances align with the state statute.
* Dearborn could be eligible for federal funding if its ordinance is in compliance with state law. The Certified Local Government program, offered by the National Park Service and available through the State Historic Preservation Office, could be a source of grants. These grants can be used for educational purposes, historic district activities, and physical rehabilitation work on city-owned National Register-listed properties like the Commandant’s Quarters.
* Dearborn homeowners could save money under the newly passed State Rehabilitation Tax Credit. Owners of properties in local historic districts could recoup up to 25 percent of rehabilitation costs in the form of a state income tax credit.
More than 75 communities in Michigan have local historic
districts. Cities in southeastern Michigan that have historic
districts, and historic district ordinances compliant with the state
act, include: Ann Arbor, Birmingham, Plymouth, Detroit,
Farmington Hills, Northville, Rochester Hills, Saline, and Ypsilanti.
1. City Council would appoint a study committee to study an area as a potential local historic district.
2. The study committee would inventory and research the historic resources in the area outlined, produce a report, and make a recommendation to City Council.
3. The ordinance also allows for a petition among residents in the area under study, and requires a public hearing before City Council establishes a local historic district.
4. City Council would decide whether or not to establish a local historic district.
During the study period, recommendations are made by the study committee. These are driven by considerations such as house age, significance, and how much historic material is still intact. Homes built later than the proposed district’s period of significance or an old house that has been extensively remodeled will usually be found to be not historic or non-contributing to the proposed district.
* The study committee researches and recommends the district. Members are appointed by the City Council.
* The commission administers the district once established, reviewing proposed work on district homes. Members are appointed by the City Council.
All local historic district commissions in Michigan use a set of Federal standards and guidelines when reviewing proposed work. These standards and guidelines are called The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings and they can be found at: https://www.nps.gov/tps/standards/rehabilitation.htm In short, these standards and guidelines ask that historic materials be preserved whenever possible and that new construction be compatible with neighboring historic buildings. Local design guidelines would provide illustrations and more specific guidance.
The proposed ordinance would also allow for local design
guidelines to be created, based on the Secretary of the Interior
Standards. These local guidelines could be customized for
each district, showcasing each district’s unique characteristics
and illustrating how best to preserve those.
Dearborn’s proposed ordinance specifies that the commission will meet monthly, or more frequently if needed. If the commission does not act on a request in 60 days, it is considered approved.
Aggrieved property owners can appeal to the State Historic Preservation Review Board. If they are still unhappy, they can appeal to the Wayne County Circuit Court.
Join Devan Anderson, President of Preservation Detroit's Board of Directors, a Michigan Historic Preservation Network board member and a member of the State Historic Preservation Review Board. Devan will share an inside look at various historic preservation projects and challenges throughout the metro Detroit area.