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U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service

Part 9: Certified Local Governments

It is often said that all preservation is ultimately local; protecting historic properties depends most heavily on local support and local actions. Without these, State and Federal programs alone, are of limited use.

In recognition of the importance of local actions to historic preservation, the 1980 amendments to the National Historic Preservation Act established the Certified Local Government (CLG) program that required each State preservation program to develop a mechanism for the certification of local governments in the State. The CLG program's purpose is to expand the existing Federal-State preservation partnership to include local governments and citizens. The program was intended to give local governments a formal role in the national historic preservation program, and, in particular, the National Register nomination process. The program has several additional goals, among which are to foster local preservation activities by providing financial and technical assistance to participating local governments and to develop a broader base of support for the State historic preservation office. The National Historic Preservation Act requires State historic preservation programs to subgrant at least 10 percent of the State's annual appropriation from the Historic Preservation Fund to its CLGs.

Under Federal regulations (Procedures for Approved State and Local Government Historic Preservation Programs, 36 CFR Part 61), States develop their own certification procedures and submit them for approval to the National Park Service. State preservation programs began certifying local governments in 1985; by March 31, 1998, 1,142 local governments had been certified in all 50 States.

In order to qualify for CLG status, Federal regulations require local governments to: 1) enforce appropriate State or local legislation for the designation and protection of historic properties; 2) establish an adequate and qualified historic preservation review commission by State or local legislation; 3) maintain a system for the survey and inventory of historic properties; 4) provide for adequate public participation in the local historic preservation program; and 5) satisfactorily perform the responsibilities delegated to them under the Act. Local governments interested in becoming certified apply to the SHPO, who reviews the applications and, if they are acceptable, forwards them to the NPS for final approval.

Within the broad parameters outlined in the Act, as amended, and its implementing regulations, individual States have the responsibility for adopting more specific requirements for local government certification in their State. For example, it is the responsibility of individual States to define what constitutes appropriate State and local legislation for the designation and protection of historic properties. Under this provision, some States have chosen to require their CLGs to adopt local landmarks ordinances that regulate alterations to historic properties and prohibit or delay their demolition. Other States have opted not to require this type of ordinance. Similarly, States have the option of specifying the disciplines that must be represented on the local historic preservation review commission with the caveat that the State requirements for CLG commissions not be more stringent than what is required for the State Review Board.

CLG Activities

Typically, CLGs apply to the SHPO for CLG subgrants to carry out a wide range of activities including: survey and inventory of historic resources in the community; preparation of National Register nominations; staff support for the CLG's historic preservation commission; developing published design guidelines for use by the commission in its review of new construction and alterations to properties within historic districts; writing or amending preservation ordinances; developing preservation plans; repairing properties listed in the National Register; and producing exhibits and brochures concerning local historical resources and the activities of the historic preservation commission.

Role of the Review Board in the CLG Program

Although Review Board members have no direct responsibilities with regard to the Certified Local Government program, they should be aware of the importance of local preservation activities and the opportunities the CLG Program affords for coordinating the work of the State historic preservation office with these efforts.

SUGGESTED READING

Arendt, Randall; Elizabeth A. Brabec, Harry Dodson. Rural by Design: Maintaining Small Town Character. Available from the American Planning Association, 122 S. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1600, Chicago, IL 60603-6107.

Beaumont, Constance E. Smart States, Better Communities. Available from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, 1785 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20036.

Information Series. This series contains information on topics such as: "Maintaining Community Character: How to Establish a Local Historic District," Order No. 2158; "Design Review in Historic Districts," Order No. 2185, "Reviewing New Construction Projects in Historic Areas," Order No. 2162; and "A Layperson's Guide to Preservation Law: Federal, State and Local Laws Governing Historic Resource Protection," Order No. 2199. Available from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, 1785 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20036.

Partnership Notes. Formerly, the Local Preservation Series, this series contains information on topics such as: Questions and Answers about Historic Properties Survey; Zoning and Historic Preservation; Subdivision and Historic Preservation; and Conservation Districts. Available from Heritage Preservation Services, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street, N.W., Suite NC 330, Washington, DC 20240.

Preserving Your Community's Heritage Through the Certified Local Government Program, 1995. Available from the Heritage Preservation Services, National Park Service, U.S. Department of Interior, 1849 C Street, N.W., Suite NC 330, Washington, DC 20240.

 

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