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(A) Purpose. The City Council declares that, as a matter of public policy, the protection, enhancement and perpetuation of landmarks or districts of historical and cultural importance and significance is necessary to promote the economic, cultural, education and general welfare of the public. It is recognized that the city represents the unique confluence of time and place that shaped the identity of generations of citizens, collectively and individually, and produced significant historic, architectural and cultural resources that constitute their heritage, this act is intended to:
(1) Protect and enhance the landmarks and districts which represent distinctive elements of the city’s historic, architectural and cultural heritage;
(2) Foster civic pride in the accomplishments of the past;
(3) Protect and enhance the city’s attractiveness to visitors and the support and stimulus to the economy thereby provided;
(4) Insure the harmonious, orderly and efficient growth and development of the city;
(5) Promote economic prosperity and welfare of the community by encouraging the most appropriate use of such property within the city;
(6) Encourage stabilization, restoration and improvements of such properties and their values;
(7) Encourage preservation and utilization of the Old Brazos River Corridor and other waterways.
(B) Appointment of Historic Preservation Officer. The City Council shall appoint a qualified staff person of the municipal entity to serve as Historic Preservation Officer. This Officer shall administer this section and advise the Freeport Historical Commission (§§ 32.20 - 32.22) on matters submitted to it. In addition to serving as representative to the Commission, the Officer is responsible for coordinating the city’s preservation activities with those of state and federal agencies and with local, state and national non-profit preservation organizations.
(C) Definitions. For the purpose of this section, the following definitions shall apply unless the context clearly indicates or requires a different meaning.
ALTERATION. A physical change in or to a building.
ARCHITECTURAL CONTROL. Regulations governing the appearance or architectural style of buildings or structures. Architectural control is a form of aesthetic zoning.
BUILDING. A building, such as a house, barn, church, hotel or similar construction, is created to shelter any form of human activity. Building also may be used to refer to a historically and functionally related unit, such as a courthouse and jail or a house and barn. (National Register Bulletin 24, p. 1)
COMPREHENSIVE HISTORIC PRESERVATION PLAN. A document that integrates the various preservation activities and gives them coherence and direction, as well as relates the community’s preservation efforts to community development planning as a whole. (National Register Bulletin 24, p. 61)
COMPREHENSIVE PLAN. A document or series of documents prepared by a planning commission or department setting forth policies for the future of a community. Enabling statutes in many states require zoning to be in accordance with a comprehensive plan (PAS, Report No. 322, pp. 10-11)
DESIGN REVIEW. The decision-making process conducted by an established review committee of a local government that is guided by the terms set in the historic preservation ordinance.
DESIGN REVIEW GUIDELINES. These are a set of guidelines adopted by the commission that details acceptable alterations of designated properties. They are usually generously illustrated and written in a manner that would be understood by most property owners.
DISTRICT. A district possesses a significant concentration, linkage or continuity of sites, buildings, structures or objects united historically or aesthetically by plan or physical development. (National Register Bulletin 24, p.1)
DUE PROCESS (OF LAW). A requirement that legal proceedings be carried out in accordance with established rules and principals. (PAS, Report No. 322, p. 14)
ENABLING LEGISLATION. State legislation that grants certain authority to local governments so that they may direct the development of their communities. Chapter 211, Municipal Zoning Authority is the legislation that enables municipalities in Texas to zone and designate historic landmarks and districts as part of the comprehensive zoning plan.
GENERAL LAW CITIES. This refers to incorporated municipalities with populations under 5,000. These cities must conform to the general laws of the State of Texas.
HISTORIC DISTRICT. An area, urban or rural, defined as an “historic district” by City Council, state or federal authority and which may contain within definable geographic boundaries one or more landmarks or clusters, including their accessory buildings, fences and other appurtenances and natural resources having historical, cultural and archaeological significance and which may have within its boundaries other buildings or structures, that, while not of such historical, cultural, architectural or archaeological significance as to be designated landmarks, nevertheless contribute to the overall visual setting of or characteristics of the landmark or landmarks located within the district.
HISTORIC PROPERTY. A district, site, building, structure or object significant in American history, architecture, engineering, archeology or culture at the national, state or local level.
HISTORIC RESOURCE. This generally is the same as a HISTORIC PROPERTY. It includes architectural, historical and archeological properties as well as landscape features.
HOME RULE CITIES. This refers to incorporated municipalities with populations over 5,000. These cities must adopt a home rule charter and are granted more independence in their local decision making.
INTENSIVE SURVEY. A systematic detailed examination of an area designed to gather information about historic properties sufficient to evaluate them against predetermined criteria of significance.
INTEGRITY. The authenticity of a property’s historic identity, evidence by survival of physical characteristics that existed during the property’s historic or prehistoric period.
INVENTORY. A list of historic properties that have been identified and evaluated as meeting specified criteria of significance.
LANDMARK. This refers to any individual building, structure or object that is significant for historical, architectural or archeological reasons.
OBJECT. The term OBJECT is used to distinguish from buildings and structures those constructions that are primarily artistic in nature or are relatively small in scale and simply constructed. Although it may be, by nature or design, movable, an object is associated with a specific setting or environment, such as statuary in a designed landscape. (National Register Bulletin 24, p. 1)
ORDINARY MAINTENANCE. This generally refers to activities relating to a property that would be considered ordinary or common for maintaining the property. For example, replacement of a porch floor with identical or in-kind materials. It also may include other activities such as painting.
POLICE POWER. The authority of local government to exercise controls to protect the public’s health, safety, morals and general welfare.
PRESERVATION. The act or process of applying measures to sustain the existing form, integrity and material of a building or structure and the existing form of vegetative cover of a site. It may include initial stabilization work, where necessary, as well as ongoing maintenance of the historic building materials.
PRESERVATION PLANNING. This refers to the planning for the continued identification and evaluation of historic properties and for their protection and enhancement. (National Register Bulletin 24, p. 61)
REHABILITATION. The act or process of returning a property to a state of utility through repair or alteration which makes possible an efficient contemporary use while preserving those portions or features of the property which are significant to its historical, architectural and cultural values.
RESTORATION. The act or process of accurately recovering the form and details of a property and its setting as it appeared at a particular period of time by means of the removal of later work or by the replacement of missing earlier work.
SITE. A site is the location of a significant event, a prehistoric or historic occupation or activity, or a building or structure, whether standing, ruined or vanished, where the location itself possesses historic, cultural or archeological value, regardless of the value of any existing structure. (National Register Bulletin 24, p. 1)
SPECIAL DISTRICT. A district established to accommodate a narrow or special set of uses or for special purposes. The term can signify any district beyond the conventional residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural districts. Examples include open-space districts, hotel/motel districts or historic preservation districts. The establishment of special districts must have an appropriate police power basis (these should be spelled out in the preamble or statement of purpose). (PAS, Report No. 322, p. 32)
STRUCTURE. The term structure is used to distinguish from buildings those functional constructions made usually for purposes other than creating shelter. (National Register Bulletin 24, p. 1)
TAKING. The appropriation by government of private land for which compensation must be paid. Under the U.S. Constitution, property cannot be condemned through eminent domain for public use or public purpose without just compensation. This is reasonably clear when government buys land directly. But the “taking issue” is far less clear when the imposition of police power controls. (PAS, Report No. 322, p. 34)
ZONING. A police power measure, enacted primarily by general purpose units of local government, in which the community is divided into districts or zones within which permitted and special uses are established as are regulations governing lot size, building bulk, placement and other development standards. (PAS, Report No. 322, p. 38)
(D) Designation of historic landmarks.
(1) These provisions pertaining to the designation of historic landmarks constitutes a part of the comprehensive zoning plan of the city.
(2) Property owners of proposed historic landmarks shall be notified prior to the Commission hearing on the recommended designation. At the Commission’s public hearing, owners, interested parties and technical experts may present testimony or documentary evidence which will become part of a record regarding the historic, architectural or cultural importance of the proposed historic landmark.
(3) Upon recommendation of the Historical Commission, the proposed historic landmark shall be submitted to the Planning Commission within 30 days from the date of submittal of designation request. The Planning Commission shall give notice and conduct its hearing on the proposed designation within 45 days of receipt of such recommendation from the Historical Commission. Such hearing shall be in the same manner and according to the same procedures as specifically provided in the general zoning ordinance of the city. The Planning Commission shall make its recommendation to the City Council within 45 days subsequent to the public hearing on the proposed designation.
(4) The City Council shall schedule a public hearing on the Planning Commission’s recommendation, to be held within 45 days of receipt of the recommendation of the Zoning Commission. The City Council shall give notice, follow publication procedure, hold hearing and make its determination in the same manner as provided in the general zoning ordinance of the city.
(5) Upon designation, singularly or as a group, of a building, object, site or structure as a historic landmark or district, the City Council shall cause the designation to be recorded in the Official Public Records of Real Property of Brazoria County, the tax records of the city and the Brazoria County Appraisal District as well as the official zoning maps of the city. All zoning maps should indicate the designated landmarks with an appropriate mark.
(E) Designation of historic districts.
(1) The provisions pertaining to the designation of a historic district constitutes a part of the comprehensive zoning plan of the city.
(2) Property owners within a proposed historic district shall be notified prior to the Commission hearing on the recommended designation. At the Commission’s public hearing, owners, interested parties and technical experts may present testimony or documentary evidence which will become part of a record regarding the historic, architectural or cultural importance of the proposed historic district.
(3) The Commission may recommend the designation of a district if it:
(a) Contains properties and an environmental setting which meet one or more of the criteria for designation of a landmark; and
(b) Constitutes a distinct section of the city.
(4) Upon recommendation of the Historical Commission, the proposed historic district shall be submitted to the Planning Commission within 30 days from the date of submittal of designation request. The Planning Commission shall give notice and conduct its hearing on the proposed designation within 45 days of receipt of such recommendation from the Commission. Such hearing shall be in the same manner and according to the same procedures as specifically provided in the general zoning ordinance of the city. The Planning Commission shall make its recommendation to the City Council within 45 days subsequent to the hearing on the proposed designation.
(5) The City Council shall schedule a public hearing on the Planning Commission’s recommendation to be held within 45 days of the receipt of the recommendation of the Planning Commission. The City Council shall give notice, follow the publication procedure, hold hearings and make its determination in the same manner as provided in the general zoning ordinance of the city.
(6) Upon designation of a historic district, the City Council shall cause the designated boundaries to be recorded in the Official Public Records of Real Property of Brazoria County, the city tax records and the Brazoria County Appraisal District as well as the official zoning maps of the city. All zoning maps should indicate the designated historic district by an appropriate mark.
(F) Criteria for the designation of historic landmarks and districts.
A historic landmark or district may be designated if it:
(1) Possesses significance in history, architecture, archeology or culture;
(2) Is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of local, regional, state or national history;
(3) Is associated with the lives of persons significant in our past;
(4) Embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period or method of construction;
(5) Represents the work of a master designer, builder or craftsman;
(6) Represents an established and familiar visual feature of the city.
(G) Certificate of Appropriateness for alterations or new construction affecting landmarks or historic districts. No person shall carry out any construction, reconstruction, alteration, restoration, rehabilitation or relocation of any historic landmark or any property within a historic district, nor shall any person make any material change in the light fixtures, signs, sidewalks, fences, landscaping, steps, paving or other exterior elements visible from a public right-of-way which affect the appearance and cohesiveness of any historic landmark or any property within a historic district without first obtaining a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Historical Commission.
(H) Criteria for approval of a Certificate of Approval. In considering an application for a Certificate of Appropriateness, the Historical Commission shall be guided by any adopted design guidelines and, where applicable, the following from The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Rehabilitation of Historic Buildings. Any adopted design guidelines and Secretary of the Interior’s Standards shall be made available to the property owners of historic landmarks or within historic districts.
(1) Every reasonable effort shall be made to adapt the property in a manner which requires minimal alteration of the building, structure, object or site and its environment.
(2) The distinguishing original qualities or character of a building, structure, object or site and its environment, shall not be destroyed. The removal or alteration of any historic material or distinctive architectural features should be avoided when possible.
(3) All buildings, structures, objects and sites shall be recognized as products of their own time. Alterations that have no historical basis and which seek to create an earlier, or later, appearance shall be discouraged.
(4) Changes which may have taken place in the course of time are evidence of the history and development of a building, structure, object or site and its environment. These changes may have acquired significance in their own right and this significance shall be recognized and respected.
(5) Distinctive stylistic features or examples of skilled craftsmanship which characterize a building, structure, object or site shall be kept where possible.
(6) Deteriorated architectural features shall be repaired rather than replaced, wherever possible. In the event replacement is necessary, the new material should reflect the material being replaced in composition, design, color, texture and other visual qualities. Repair or replacement of missing architectural features should be based on accurate duplications of features, substantiated by historical, physical or pictorial evidence rather than on conjectural designs or the availability of different architectural elements from other buildings or structures.
(7) The surface cleaning of structures shall be undertaken with the gentlest means possible. Sandblasting and other cleaning methods that will damage the historic building materials shall not be undertaken.
(8) Every reasonable effort shall be made to protect and preserve archeological resources affected by, or adjacent to, any project.
(9) Contemporary design for alterations and additions to existing properties shall not be discouraged when such alterations and additions do not destroy significant historical, architectural or cultural material, and such design is compatible with the size, scale, color, material and character of the property, neighborhood or environment.
(10) Wherever possible, new additions or alterations to buildings, structures, objects or sites shall be done in such a manner that, if such additions or alterations were to be removed in the future, the essential form and integrity of the building, structure, object or site would be unimpaired.
(I) Certification of Appropriateness application procedures.
(1) Prior to the commencement of any work requiring a certificate of appropriateness, the owner shall file an application for such a certificate with the Historical Commission. The application shall contain:
(a) Name, address, telephone number of applicant, detailed description of proposed work and legal description of the site;
(b) Location and photograph of the property and adjacent properties;
(c) Elevation drawings of the proposed changes, if available;
(d) Samples of materials to be used;
(e) If the proposal includes signs or lettering, a scale drawing showing the type of lettering to be used, all dimensions and colors, a description of materials to be used, method of illumination (if any), and a plan showing the sign’s location on the property;
(f) Any other information which the Historical Commission may deem necessary in order to visualize the proposed work.
(2) No building permit shall be issued for such proposed work until a certificate of appropriateness has first been issued by the Historical Commission. The certificate of appropriateness required by this act shall be in addition to and not in lieu of any other building permit that may be required by another ordinance of the city.
(3) All certificates of appropriateness must be approved by the Building Official pursuant to applicable codes including the Southern Building Code, Ch. 1, § 101.6, “Special Historic Buildings”; the Standard Existing Building Code, Ch. 3, “Historic Structures”; the Standard Mechanical Code, Ch. 1, § 101.6, “Special Historic Buildings”; the Standard Fire Prevention Code, Ch. 1, § 101.6, “Special Historic Buildings”; the Standard Gas Code, Ch. 1, § 101.6; and the Standard Plumbing Code, Ch.1, § 101.6, as enacted or amended.
(4) The Historical Commission shall review the application at a regularly scheduled meeting within 60 days from the date the application is received, at which time an opportunity will be provided for the applicant to be heard. The Historical Commission shall approve, deny, or approve with modifications the permit within 45 days after the review meeting. In the event the Historical Commission does not approve, deny, or approve with modification within 90 days of the receipt of the application, a permit may be granted.
(5) All decisions of the Historical Commission shall be in writing. The Commission’s decision shall state its findings pertaining to the approval, denial or modification of the application. A copy shall be sent to the applicant. Additional copies shall be filed as part of the public record on that property and dispersed to appropriate city departments, e.g. building inspection.
(6) An applicant for a certificate of appropriateness dissatisfied with the action of the Historical Commission relating to the issuance or denial of a certificate of appropriateness shall have the right to appeal to the City Council or any other appropriate board within 30 days after receipt of notification of such action. The City Council shall give notice, follow publication procedure, hold hearings and make its decision in the same manner as provided in the general zoning ordinance of the city.
(J) Certificate of appropriateness required for demolition.
A permit for demolition of a historic landmark or property within a historic district, including secondary buildings and landscape features, shall not be granted by the Building Official without the review of a completed application for a certificate of appropriateness by the Historical Commission, as provided for in divisions (G), (H), and (I).
(K) Economic hardship application procedure.
(1) After receiving written notification from the Commission of the denial of a certificate of appropriateness, an applicant may commence the hardship process. No building permit or demolition permit shall be issued unless the Historical Commission makes a finding that hardship exists.
(2) When a claim of economic hardship is made due to the effect of this section, the owner must prove that:
(a) The property is incapable of earning a reasonable return, regardless of whether that return represents the most profitable return possible;
(b) The property cannot be adapted for any other use, whether by the current owner or by a purchaser, which would result in a reasonable return; and
(c) Efforts to find a purchaser interested in acquiring the property and preserving it have failed.
(3) The applicant shall consult in good faith with the Historical Commission, local preservation groups and interested parties in a diligent effort to seek an alternative that will result in preservation of the property. Such efforts must be shown to the Historical Commission.
(4) The Historical Commission shall hold a public hearing on the application within 60 days from the date the application is received by the Building Official. Following the hearing, the Historical Commission has 30 days in which to prepare a written recommendation to the Building Official. In the event that the Commission does not act within 90 days of the receipt of the application, a permit may be granted.
(5) All decisions of the Historical Commission shall be in writing. A copy shall be sent to the applicant by registered mail and a copy filed with the City Secretary’s office for public inspection. The Commission’s decision shall state the reasons for granting or denying the hardship application.
(6) An applicant for a certificate of appropriateness dissatisfied with the action of the Commission relating to the issuance or denial of a certificate of appropriateness shall have the right to appeal to the City Council within 30 days after receipt of notification of such action. The City Council shall give notice, follow publication procedure, hold hearings and make its decision in the same manner as provided in the general zoning ordinance of the city.
(L) Enforcement. All work performed pursuant to a certificate of appropriateness issued under this section shall conform to any requirements included therein. It shall be the duty of the Building Official to inspect periodically any such work to assure compliance. In the event work is found that is not being performed in accordance with the certificate of appropriateness, or upon notification of such fact by the Commission and verification by the Building Official, the Building Official shall issue an appropriate stop work order and such work shall immediately cease. No further work shall be undertaken on the project as long as a stop work is in effect.
(M) Ordinary maintenance. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the ordinary maintenance and repair of any exterior architectural feature of a landmark or property within a historic district which does not involve a change in design, material, color or outward appearance. In-kind replacement or repair is included in this definition of ordinary maintenance.
(N) Demolition by neglect. No owner or person with an interest in real property designated as a landmark or included within a historic district shall permit the property to fall into a serious state of disrepair so as to result in the deterioration of any exterior architectural feature which would, in the judgment of the Commission, produce a detrimental effect upon the character of the historic district as a whole or in the life and character of the property itself. Examples of such deterioration include but are not limited to:
(1) Deterioration of exterior walls or other vertical supports.
(2) Deterioration of roofs or other horizontal members.
(3) Deterioration of exterior chimneys.
(4) Deterioration or crumbling of exterior stucco, mortar or paint.
(5) Ineffective waterproofing of exterior walls, roof, or foundation, including broken windows or doors.
(6) Deterioration of any feature so as to create a hazardous condition which could lead to the claim that demolition is necessary for the public safety.
(Ord. 1100-91-2, passed 4-1-91) Penalty, see § 155.999