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Minimum Requirements for Certified Local Governments

The Wisconsin State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) administers the Certified Local Government program for the National Park Service in Wisconsin. The federal law defining the Certified Local Government program can be found in 36 CFR Part 61, Section 61.5 "Approved Local Programs." This section of the law lays out the four minimum requirements for participation in the CLG program. A community must:

  1. establish a qualified historic preservation commission
  2. enforce appropriate State or local legislation for the designation and protection of historic properties
  3. maintain a system for the survey and inventory of local historic resources
  4. provide for public participation in the local historic preservation program

Section 61.5 (b) also states, "Beyond the minimum delegations of authority that must be made to all CLGs, States may make additional delegations of responsibility to individual CLGs." The Wisconsin SHPO has set forth these additional requirements:

  1. The CLG must enact and enforce a historic preservation ordinance that regulates historic property
  2. A CLG must provide annual reporting to the SHPO on CLG activities
  3. A CLG must send copies of meeting minutes and agendas to the SHPO following each meeting
  4. The ordinance must not allow owners to "opt-out" of designation
  5. Designation must not require owner consent before landmark designation
  6. The commission must approve work on locally designated properties and recommendations may not be "advisory"

Local commissions, once created, must receive strong support from a local governmentís power structure, and direction required to the extent that informal policies contravening the intent of the ordinance are not adopted. Commissions sometimes adopt an informal policy, not supported by their enabling ordinance, that an ownerís permission must be granted to designate a property. The latter, of course, completely guts the intent of a local ordinance by robbing it, in fact, of its ability to pursue the publicís interest in local preservation issues by sublimating the publicís interest to private desires. Like all other zoning powers of the community, the owner must conform to the requirements of designation, and the actions of the commission must serve to regulate historic property. When actions allow owners to opt-out of regulatory control, or only consider the recommendations of the commission as advisory, the commission holds no true regulatory powers.

The CLG must conform with all of the above requirements or the SHPO may revoke CLG certification.


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