Historic Preservation Law and Legal Definition

States and local governments may establish historic preservation commissions and architectural review boards to promote the educational, cultural, economic and general welfare of municipalities through the preservation and protection of buildings, sites, structures, areas and districts of historic significance and interest. Such board and commissions vary by state, but aim for the preservation and enhancement of the national, state and local historic, architectural, archaeological and aesthetic heritage found in the area and to promote and enhance its historic and aesthetic attraction to tourists and visitors.

Some of the powers of a historic preservation commission may include the following:

  1. Preserve and protect buildings, structures and sites of historic and architectural value in the historic districts designated pursuant to that ordinance;
  2. Prepare a survey of all property within the territorial jurisdiction of the municipality creating the commission;
  3. Recommend to the municipality creating the commission buildings, structures, sites and districts for designation as historic properties or districts;
  4. Restore and preserve any historic properties acquired by the municipality creating the commission or acquired by the commission;
  5. Promote acquisition of facade and conservation easements by the municipality creating the commission or by the commission;
  6. Develop and conduct educational programs on historic projects and districts designated pursuant to the ordinance and on historic preservation subjects;
  7. Make such investigations and studies of matters relating to historic preservation as the municipality creating the commission or the commission deems necessary and appropriate for the purposes of this chapter;
  8. Apply for funds to carry out the purposes and responsibilities of the commission from municipal, county, state, federal and private agencies and sources;
  9. Purchase, sell, contract to purchase, contract to sell, own, encumber, lease, mortgage and insure real and personal property in carrying out the purposes and responsibilities of the commission;
  10. Investigate, survey and process nominations of properties to the National Register of Historic Places;
  11. Investigate, survey and process applications for certification of historic properties for tax credits for preservation expenditures;
  12. Contract with other municipal, county, state, federal and private agencies and organizations to perform historic preservation related functions;
  13. Exercise such further powers as the commission may deem reasonably necessary and proper to carry out the purposes, responsibilities and powers of the commission.