The Certified Local Government (CLG) program represents a partnership between the National Park Service (NPS), the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (AHPP) and local governments (Arkansas cities and counties) to preserve historic resources at the local level.
An Arkansas city or county is eligible to participate in the CLG program if it has appointed a Historic District Commission (HDC) and has passed a local preservation ordinance designating one or more local historic districts, according to applicable state law.
21 Arkansas cities currently participate in the Certified Local Government program. They are Batesville, Benton, Blytheville, Conway, Dumas, El Dorado, Eureka Springs, Fairfield Bay, Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Helena-West Helena, Hot Springs, Little Rock, Morrilton, North Little Rock, Osceola, Pine Bluff, Rogers, Russellville, Texarkana, and Van Buren.
A Historic District Commission (HDC) is a board comprised of 5-9 citizens appointed by the mayor or chief elected official of a locality whose goals are to:
A local preservation ordinance helps to preserve the visual characteristics of a historic neighborhood while providing a framework for redevelopment by stabilizing a neighborhood and increasing property values. By joining the CLG program, an eligible city or county gains access to an enhanced partnership with AHPP and NPS, including training, technical support, and grant assistance.
By law, at least 10 percent of the AHPP's annual federal appropriation must be distributed in the form of CLG grants. Furthermore, CLG status provides a process for identifying, evaluating and recognizing historic property. The CLG program provides a means for planning and considering historic preservation in land use, public improvement and development decisions. CLG status is a tool for educating citizens, government officials, and community groups about the advantages of historic preservation.
CLG grants have often been used as seed money to attract funding from local governments or other sources. Also, in many cases, the products generated by CLG grants have provided credibility to a fledgling local historic preservation program. Beyond being just a source of funds, the CLG program has helped institutionalize historic preservation and give it legitimacy as a function of local government.
As a member of the CLG program, the city or county's Historic District Commission also gains access to training opportunities designed especially for local preservation commissions. AHPP typically offers two of these training workshops each year. Additionally, CLG communities are granted a special role in the process of nominating properties to the National Register of Historic Places.
In a locally designated historic district, most exterior work must first receive a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) before any changes are made to a property. The local historic district commission will review all additions, demolitions, new construction, signage, streetscape features, and rehabilitation and restoration projects. Some local preservation ordinances also call for the HDC to review changes in color. Several HDCs in Arkansas are also charged by ordinance with reviewing cases of severe deterioration or "demolition by neglect".
Certificates of Appropriateness allow an HDC to ensure that changes maintain the historic integrity of the area. Work done without a COA can result in fines and/or the removal or elimination of the unauthorized alteration.
Before beginning work on any site in a locally designated historic district, a property owner should first obtain an application for a COA from the local HDC. Your application will be placed on the agenda of an upcoming HDC meeting. Your city or county will not issue a work permit in the historic district until the proposed work has been approved by the HDC, so be sure to plan for this extra step before beginning your project.
Only changes to the exterior of a property. This includes windows, doors, walls, roofs, porches, yards, sidewalks, storefronts, signs, etc. Some HDCs also regulate paint colors. However, HDCs cannot consider interior arrangements, zoning, or how a building is used. Additionally, work that does not involve a change in design, materials, or appearance is considered "ordinary maintenance" and typically is not subject to HDC review.
When the HDC approves your proposed work, you will receive a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA). Pick up an application at your city hall. You still must observe all other city building codes and zoning requirements.
Yes. In most cities, "ordinary maintenance" (work that does not involve a change in color, materials, or appearance) does not usually require commission review. In some cities, work that is not visible from the public right of way is also exempted from review. Additionally, all HDCs are prohibited from considering any interior arrangements or how a property is used.
Your city may have other regulations relating to work in a historic district (permits, zoning, codes, etc.) Always be sure to check with your local planning department or building official before beginning work.
To begin with, you will need to gain the support of both your elected officials and the citizens of your potential historic district. Take time to speak to the citizens, hold a public meeting, and explain the advantages of historic districts.
Remember, a historic district is established to benefit the public. The public is always welcome at meetings and should be encouraged to attend and participate.
Upon the passage of a preservation ordinance, an HDC should work closely with property owners, residents, and merchants within the designated historic district(s) to develop a set of design guidelines customized especially for the needs of each particular district. An HDC should review its guidelines each year to ensure they remain relevant and sensitive to the needs of each historic district.
To participate in the CLG program, AHPP requires that any guidelines adopted by an HDC be, at a minimum, consistent with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation. These 10 broad principles of preservation are widely recognized throughout the United States as a best practice model for reviewing design changes in historic districts. (Often, a new HDC will initially adopt the Secretary's Standards to review changes while it develops its first set of customized design guidelines.)
Cities participating in the CLG program are required to use standards substantially similar to the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation when evaluating proposed changes. Many commissions also develop design guidelines that are specific to the architectural character of a particular historic district. Contact your city hall for details.
The chief elected official appoints a Historic District Commission (HDC) that meets specific guidelines laid out in the Arkansas Historic Districts Act (ACA 14-172-201 et seq) The HDC investigates and reports on the historic significance of a proposed district and prepares a written report on its findings. Copies must be provided to the AHPP and local the planning commission for comment. Each group has sixty days to give the HDC its recommendations. Failure to make recommendations is taken as approval.
The HDC next must hold a public hearing on the formation of the district. Please contact AHPP or your city/county attorney's office for specifics on holding a public hearing.
The HDC submits a final report to the governing body, including its recommendations and a proposed preservation ordinance within sixty days of the public hearing.
The governing body then reviews the report and acts. It can either:
Please contact the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program at 501-324-9880 for assistance or with specific questions.
To participate in the CLG program, a local preservation ordinance must include, at a minimum:
An important part of Arkansas's culture is a proud tradition of private property rights. This aspect of our culture is valid and must be respected. However, many of the benefits of a local historic district (like enhanced property values or an aesthetically pleasing neighborhood) only arise en masse, when everyone participates.
The Arkansas Historic Districts Act does allow for historic districts to be designated without the consent of every property owner, but it remains the responsibility of the preservation community to build public support for a proposed historic district and to be available to answer any questions regarding private property rights.
Is that case, the local government must demonstrate that it has made a reasonable effort to fill these positions with a preservation-related professional. When reviewing a matter in which a discipline is not represented, the commission must consult with a professional who has expertise in that profession.
For example, if an archeological issue arises before the commission and the commission lacks an archeologist, the Arkansas Archeological Survey could be contacted.
|National Park Service CLG site||Hot Springs Historic District Commission|
|National Alliance of Preservation Commissions||Little Rock Historic District Commission|
|Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation||North Little Rock Historic District Commission|
|Batesville Historic District Commission||Osceola Historic District Commission|
|Conway Historic District Commission||Pine Bluff Historic District Commission|
|El Dorado Historic District Commission||Rogers Historic District Commission|
|Eureka Springs Historic District Commission||Russellville Historic District Commission|
|Fayetteville Historic District Commission||Texarkana Historic District Commission|
|Fort Smith Historic District Commission||Van Buren Historic District Commission|