Preservation Programs and Documents

Certified Local Governments

What is the Certified Local Government Program?
The Certified Local Government Program is a preservation partnership between local, state, and the federal government focused on promoting historic preservation at the grass roots level. In Georgia, the program is jointly administered by the National Park Service (NPS) and the Georgia Historic Preservation Division (HPD). Each local community can work through a certification process to become recognized as a Certified Local Government (CLG). CLGs then become an active partner in the Federal Historic Preservation Program and the opportunities it provides. 

What are the benefits of becoming a CLG?
  • A Certified Local Government is eligible to apply for federal historic preservation grant funds that are only available to CLGs.
  • A CLG participates directly in the National Register of Historic Places program by reviewing local nominations prior to their consideration by the Georgia National Register Review Board.
  • Certification provides access to expert technical advice from HPD, NPS, and other partnering networks. Technical assistance is available in the forms of informational material, training workshops, statewide meetings, and conferences.
  • Increased communication among local, state, and national preservation activities, as well as with other Georgia CLGs.
 How does my community become a CLG?

Any city, town, or county that has enacted a historic preservation ordinance, enforces that ordinance through a local preservation commission, and has met the requirements outlined in the Procedures for Georgia's Certified Local Government Program, is eligible to become a CLG. 

Historic Preservation Ordinance

What is a historic preservation ordinance?                    
A historic preservation ordinance is local legislation created ensure the protection of local historic resources from destruction or insensitive remodeling. It is a legal means by which local communities can identify, evaluate, and protect historic districts, individual buildings, and archaeological sites. An ordinance establishes the historic preservation commission to regulate the design of exterior changes to buildings within a defined area.

What does an ordinance usually contain?  A sample ordinance is located here.
  • Title
  • A statement of purpose or intent
    • List the purposes served by the ordinance. Does your community want to stimulate economic growth through the revitalization of historic residential and commercial districts? Protect local aesthetic and architectural values? Be specific. 
  • Definitions of terms
    • Be thorough. Never assume that the public or elected officials may be familiar with the terms routinely used by a commission.
  • Procedures for establishing a review board or historic preservation commission
    • What will be the name of the entity? How many members will be on the board and how will they be elected? What are required qualifications for appointment? Who will appoint new members? These are important points to list in an ordinance.
  • Statement of powers and duties of the review board or commission
  • Criteria and procedures for the identification, review, and designation of historic sites and districts
    • This section spells out the designation process from preliminary research steps, criteria for selection of historic properties, making recommendations, and reporting designations.
  • Procedures and standards for reviewing proposed alterations
    • This section will discuss acceptable commission reactions to applications for a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA). The approval or denial of a COA should be based on specific criteria (design guidelines), which are based on the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation. This section will also contain the type of changes subject to design review, the standards the board or commission will use to evaluate these changes, and proposed timetables for commission decision-making in order to insure timeliness and fairness. 
  • Appeals procedures
    • In most cases, ordinances allow a property owner to appeal to another decision-making body, such as a plan board or commission, with final determination generally made by the elected city or village council.
  • Minimum maintenance of historic properties and building and zone code provisions 
    • Preservation ordinances often include some means of addressing the deterioration of historic buildings from neglect. Many ordinances issue steps to be taken to remedy deterioration and consequences for failing to act.
  • Enforcement provisions and penalties
    • Enforcement provisions are necessary to ensure that a commission’s authority is binding. The ordinance should describe the consequences of failure to follow the law. The ordinance may establish specific penalties for violation or provide for civil remedies.
  • Severability
    • Most ordinances have a severability clause, which allows the ordinance as a whole to remain in effect if a court has determined that a specific provision is invalid.           
Design Guidelines 

What are design guidelines?                
Design guidelines function to preserve and protect the historic character of existing communities and improve the aesthetic and functional quality of new development projects.

      Design guidelines CAN
  • Explain and interpret general design criteria in the local preservation ordinance.
  • Identify the character of a historic area and protect its visual aspects.
  • Indicate the difference between appropriate and inappropriate alterations.
  • Serve as a tool for designers and property owners to use in making preliminary design decisions. 
  • Preserve the architectural character of a structure during the course of maintenance, renovation, or rehabilitation.
  • Increase public awareness of design issues and options.
  • Avoid demolition by neglect
      Design guidelines CANNOT
  • Affect the use of a property or its interior.
  • Regulate exterior paint color.
  • Serve the same legal purpose as the design review provisions of the ordinance.
  • Limit growth or regulate where growth takes place. Growth must be separately addressed through zoning ordinances and preservation planning. 
  • Guarantee that all new construction will be compatible with a historic area.
  • Control how the space within a building is used. 
  • Prohibit new constriction or additions to historic buildings. Design guidelines simply ensure that new construction and additions are as compatible as possible to the historic district.

Preparing Design Guidelines for a Historic District

Steps in Writing Design Guidelines

COA Application

What is a Certificate of Appropriateness?                

When a commission reviews and approves changes to a historic structure, they issue a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA). This document states that the proposed work is appropriate for the historic district and meets criteria in the local ordinance and design guidelines. A COA is required before making a material change in exterior appearance to a structure and before a building permit can be issued. Work completed without a COA can lead to fines, permit delays, and the possible reversal of any unapproved alterations.

Sample COA Application from Savannah, Georgia 

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