Landmarks Heritage Preservation Commission

Certificate of Approval

Upon designation of a building or district, the Commission reviews any proposed exterior alteration, remodeling, new construction or demolition activity which affects the characteristics outlined in the design guidelines or landmark nomination form. At the time that the applicant files for a building or alteration permit with the City’s Permits and Inspection Division, an application for Certificate of Approval is also issued. This application requires a detailed description of the proposed work, including relevant plans and building materials. The application is then forwarded to the Commission staff for determination of the effects of the construction on the structure or district’s significance. Where the staff finds that the construction created no alteration to the identified characteristics, the application is immediately approved. Should the staff determine that the proposal requires evaluation relative to maintaining the integrity of the designated property, the application is scheduled for public hearing before the commission.

The commission will grant the Certificate of Approval if the proposed alteration or new construction is found to be appropriate or in character for the purposes of the designation. In this review, the applicant must provide the Commission with any additional plans, photographs or building material information necessary for consideration of the proposal. The Commission will then assess such factors as the historical and architectural qualities of the landmark or district; the materials and features of the affected structures; exterior fixtures such as signs or fences; and any other elements important to the character of the property as defined in the design guidelines or landmark nomination form. For example, owners wishing to rebuild a porch, install siding, replace windows or make other substantial changes affecting a building’s appearance would be required to obtain a Certificate of Approval. However, exterior paint color or landscaping (such as the planting of shrubs, trees, and gardens) is typically not one of the characteristics noted in an original designation. Landscape alteration or repainting, therefore, would require a Certificate of Approval only if these features were specified in the ordinance as characteristics that contribute to the property’s significance.

In the case of a district, any new construction (for example, a house build on a vacant lot) when sited within the district’s boundaries, would also be subject to review and require a Certificate of Approval. This process ensures that the new construction is compatible with the architectural character of the are and that the district’s historic integrity is not compromised.

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Federal and State Government and Preservation

Laws protecting historic sites were first instituted by Congress in the late 19th century; however, the federal government did not become broadly involved in preservation issuers until after the turn of the century. Three pieces of legislation passed by Congress prior to World War II form the basis of the federal government’s involvement in preservation. The 1906 Federal Antiquities Act authorized protection for archaeological sites on federally owned land. In 1916 the National Park Service was formed; this agency took over the administration of national parks as well as nine existing national monuments of historic importance. The Historic Sites Act of 1935 directed the Secretary of the Interior to secure data, make surveys, restore buildings and develop educational programs.

The federal government’s role in preservation was broadened substantially with the passage of the National Historic Preservations Act of 1966. This legislation established the National Register of Historic Places, an Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and the authorization of funds to states for historic preservation activities. In effect, the act created a nationwide program of financial and technical assistance to preserve historic properties.

On the federal level, this program is administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, except for the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation which operates as an independent agency.

To carry out the intent of the National Historic Preservation Act, a federal-state partnership has evolved. In Nebraska, by an action of the State Legislature, the Nebraska State Historical Society has been authorized to administer the provisions of the act.

Mandated by the Act, the responsibilities of the Society’s State Historic Preservation Office include the identification, evaluation, registration, and protection of the state’s historic resources. Toward these ends, the office conducts the Nebraska Historic Buildings Survey and archaeological surveys; evaluates and nominates properties to the National Register of Historic Places; consults with developers and reviews projects for federal historic preservation tax incentives; develops and maintains the state’s cultural Resource Plan; administers procedures under both federal and state laws; and provides information and technical assistance to government agencies and the public.

The Director of the Nebraska State Historical Society serves as the State Historic Preservation Officer. Assisting the Preservation Officer is the Deputy Preservation Officer and a professional staff knowledgeable in Nebraska architecture, architectural history, history, and archaeology.

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