The Village of Palos Park has become a Certified Local Government, historic properties within the Village are eligible for consideration for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. This distinction offers many benefits to the owners of historic property and to the Village as a whole.
Historic Home Book for Sale
The Historic Preservation Commission has compiled a book containing surveys of the historic homes in Palos Park. The book is available for $25.00 at the Kaptur Administrative Center.
Q.1 Why does the Village have a historic preservation ordinance?
The Village has a wonderful character and we all desire to preserve its charm. One of the three considerations vital to that effort is historic preservation. (The other two are the environment and economic vitality.) Many homes and other buildings in the Village have local or regional historic significance. The Village desires to create a mechanism to protect some of these historical treasures.
Q.2. What does it mean for my property to be designated as historic?
The designation of a house or other building as historic, or a historic landmark, means that the building has special qualities that are worthy of preservation, perhaps because it is architecturally important, or was the home of an important person, or was the place or an important event, or for some other reason significant to the community or the country.
Q.3. Are there financial benefits from a historic designation?
There sometimes are property tax benefits for residential property owners undergoing significant restoration. The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency offers a property tax freeze program for certified historic residences that are being rehabilitated. In that program, the assessed valuation is frozen for eight years and gradually brought back to market level over four more years. To qualify, the owner occupant must spend at least 25 percent of the property’s market value on an approved project that significantly improves the condition of the structure.
Q.4. What if I don’t want my house to be designated as a landmark?
If you don’t want your house to be designated, then it cannot be designated. No house or other building can be designated unless the owner asks for designation. The historic preservation ordinance drafted by the Task Force provides for a purely voluntary program—only the owner of a property can submit that property for consideration. No person other than the owner can submit an application for consideration.
Q.5. Is it possible for my house to become part of a historic district without my consent?
No. The Village’s proposed ordinance creating the program for historic preservation does not include any provisions for “historic districts.” The Village’s task force recommends that we start only with voluntary designations of individual properties. If in the future residents believe that the creation of a historic district would be beneficial, then we can consider whether to do so. At this time, the Village has not undertaken a survey that would indicate whether there is an area in the Village where a district would be appropriate.
Q.6. What is the role of the Historic Preservation Commission?
The Historic Preservation Commission will be comprised of Village residents. They will review applications for historic designation. The HPC will make recommendations to the Village Council, which will make the final decision on whether to designate a property as historic. In addition, the HPC will review exterior improvement projects on properties that already are designated as historic and will issue “certificate of appropriateness,” which indicate that the improvement will not damage the historical significance of the building. The HPC also may conduct surveys of the Village in an effort to discover buildings and places that may have historical significance.
Q.7. If my house is designated as a historic landmark, will I be able to renovate my house in the future?
Yes. The Village’s proposed ordinance does not prevent renovation work. The owner of a historic building is permitted to make any interior renovations that do not affect exterior appearance, subject just to general building code provisions. An owner also may make exterior renovations by going through the process of securing a “certificate of appropriateness” from the Historic Preservation Commission. That process involves review of the renovation plans to avoid, or at least minimize, the impact of the renovations on the historic features of the building. The Village staff and the Historic Preservation Commission would help the applicant make the application and review and refine the renovation plans as appropriate.
Q.8. Once my house is designated as a landmark, how does the review process work?
If an owner wants to do work on a designated historic landmark, then the owner applies for a “certificate of appropriateness.” The historic preservation commission will review the plans for the work and make a decision whether to approve the plans based on the standards set out in the ordinance. The review is done jointly with the owner in an effort to allow the work to go forward without adversely affected any historic feature of the building.
Q.9. What if the historic preservation commission decides not to approve my plans?
Any person who does not reach agreement with the historic preservation commission for approval of plans may appeal to the Village Council. The Village Council will review the plans with the owner and then reach a decision whether to approve them.
Q.10. Once my house has been designated as historic, can I undo that designation if I don’t want it any more?
A property can be “un-designated” as historic under certain circumstances, such as when a building has ceased to meet the criteria for designation because the qualities that caused it to be originally designated have been lost or destroyed, or those qualities were lost subsequent to nomination, but before designation. The hubbub involving the renovated Soldier Field is an example of this situation. A property also can be “un-designated” if it there was an error in the initial designation. A property owner, however, cannot “un-designate” his or her property simply because they no longer want to participate in the program.
Certified Local Government
The National Register of Historic Places
Historic properties within the Village will be eligible for consideration for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. This distinction offers many benefits to the owners of historic property and to the Village as a whole.
What is the National Register?
The National Register of Historic Places in the nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. The list is administered by the National Park District. Included among the nearly 77,000 listings that make up the National Register are properties across the country that have been nominated by governments, organizations, and individuals because they are significant to the nation, to a state, or to a community.
What does it mean to be a Certified Local Government?
The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency administers all state and federal historic preservation programs, including the National Register. The Certified Local Government Program, which was established by the National Historic Preservation Act Amendments of 1980, gives municipalities and counties the opportunity to participate as partners with the IHPA in state and federal preservation activities. Municipalities and counties that have local historic preservation programs meeting certain standards may participate after they have been “certified.” To become certified, a local government must have a historic preservation ordinance, establish a preservation review commission, have an active local survey program to identify historic resources, and provide for public participation.
A strong preservation ordinance includes a statement of purpose, provides for the establishment of a historic preservation commission, outlines the process for designating local landmarks, and includes a process for reviewing actions affecting designated places. The Village’s ordinance includes all of those features in a straightforward, understandable form. Village residents who serve on the Historic Preservation Commission will assist property owners as technical advisers and advise them about proper rehabilitation techniques.
What does Palos Park do as a Certified Local Government?
As a Certified Local Government, the Village plays an active role in the National Register review process. All nominations for places within the Village will be submitted to the Village’s Historic Preservation Commission and the Mayor for their review and comment. The Commission will meet with the property owners and help them through the process. All residents will be invited to participate as well.
Certified Local Governments also are eligible for matching grant funds to assist in the implementation of their local preservation programs. At least 10 percent of the federal Historic Preservation Fund is set aside specifically for Certified Local Governments. The funds can be used for a variety of projects, including surveys, preservation plans, staff support, and public education. The Village’s Historic Preservation Commission will conduct surveys of the Village to identify potential historic structures. The Commission also will assist the Village in considering other ways to assist residents in preserving the historic nature of their structures.
Benefits from Historic Preservation and National Register Listing.
There are many benefits of historic preservation. The important State program freezing assessed valuation is described below. Here are others:
- Recognition that a property is of significance to the nation, the State, or the community.
- Creation of community pride and awareness in the architectural and historical significance of a property.
- Eligibility for federal tax benefits.
- Qualification for federal and State financial assistance for historic preservation.
- Consideration in the planning for federal, federally-assisted, State, and State-assisted projects.
- Potential future local incentive programs that assist owners of designated properties, such as low-interest loans, grants, and easements.
Property Tax Assessment Freeze Program.
The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency offers property tax incentives to owner-occupants of certified historic residences who rehabilitate their homes. The assessed valuation of the historic property is frozen for eight years at the level when renovation began and then is brought back to market level over four years. This incentive encourages protection and upgrades of historic structures. To qualify, the owner occupant of a residence that is registered as a historic structure must spend at least 25 percent of the property’s market value on an approved rehabilitation project that significantly improves the condition of the structure and is completed in accordance with U.S. Department of the Interior “Standards for Rehabilitation.” The Village’s Historic Preservation Commission would assist homeowners with each step.