(a)   Proposals to designate or expand historic districts or designate historic landmarks may be initiated by the Historic Commission, a property owner or by motion of Planning Commission or City Council. Proposals initiated by property owners, Planning Commission or Council shall be referred to the Historic Commission for recommendation and initiation of the formal designation process.
   (b)   Proposals to designate or expand a historic district shall be submitted with a rezoning application as well as the information listed below. Proposals to designate a historic landmark shall include, at a minimum, the following additional information:
      (1)   Evidence of property owner interest in landmark designation or location within the proposed historic district.
      (2)   A boundary description.
      (3)   An inventory of historic resources.
      (4)   A description of the architectural and historical significance of properties within the proposed boundaries, including photo documentation of unique elements and also those that are stereotypical of the architectural style.
      (5)   A map or description of existing zoning.
   (c)   In considering any area, place, structure, work of art or similar object in the City as a historic site or historic district, the Historic Commission shall apply the following criteria:
      (1)   The structure or site or area's character, value, or significance as part of the development of the City, the State, or the United States;
      (2)   Its location as a site or area of a significant historic event;
      (3)   Its identification with a person who significantly contributed to the development of the City;
      (4)   Its embodiment of distinguishing characteristics of an architectural style or type;
      (5)   Its exemplification of the cultural, economic, social or political heritage of the City;
      (6)   Its relationship to other distinctive areas or structures designated for preservation;
      (7)   Its unique location or singular physical characteristic representing an established and familiar feature of the City; and
      (8)   Its inclusion of prehistoric and/or historic archaeological sites or other important representations of previous cultures.
   (d)   Designation procedure.  The previously named entities, individuals, or Historic Commission shall have the authority to propose designations of any area, place, structure, work of art, or similar object in the City as a historic site or historic district. The following shall be the procedure for the formal designation of such places or areas.
      (1)   Step 1 - Development Code Administrator recommendation required.
         A.   The Historic Commission shall advise the Development Code Administrator of the proposed designation and secure from the Development Code Administrator a recommendation with respect to the relationship of the proposed designation to the Master Plan of the City and any applicable Historic Preservation Plan.
         B.   The Development Code Administrator shall give an opinion as to the effect of the proposed designation upon the surrounding neighborhood and an opinion and recommendation as to any other planning consideration which may be relevant to the proposed designation, together with a recommendation of approval, rejection, or modification of the proposed designation.
         C.   Such recommendation shall be submitted in written form by the Historic Commission, along with its recommendation concerning the proposed designation.
         D.   The Historic Commission shall make a decision whether to proceed with the designation review based on the recommendation of the Development Code Administrator.
      (2)   Step 2 - notification.
         A.   If the Historic Commission decides to proceed with designation, the Development Code Administrator shall notify the owner of all properties under consideration for designation. For the purpose of designation or expansion of a group or district, notice shall be published on the City's webpage and shall be mailed or otherwise distributed to each owner of real property located within such group or district. Whenever possible, the Historic Commission shall secure the owner's written consent for submittal of the proposed designation, together with its recommendation of findings of fact.
         B.   The Historic Commission shall make a recommendation concerning the designation of the property to the City Council. Once the proposal to establish or expand a preservation district or to designate an individual property or structure as a historic landmark has been reviewed, the Historic Commission shall schedule a public hearing. The public hearing shall not be more than 30 calendar days after such a proposal is submitted. Notice of the public hearing shall be given according to the following:
            1.   The Historic Commission shall give the owner(s) not less than 14 calendar days' written notice of the date, time and place of such hearing.
            2.   Notice of the public hearing shall be given to at least one or more newspapers of general circulation in the City. The notice shall be published at least ten calendar days before the date of the hearing.
            3.   Notices shall include the time and place of the public hearing, a summary of the proposal and a statement that opportunity to be heard will be afforded to any person interested. Failure of delivery of such notice shall not invalidate any such amendment.
            4.   The original application, all comments and additional considerations presented at the public hearing, and the recommendation of the Historic Commission shall be forwarded to the City Council for its consideration.
      (3)   Step 3 - Historic Commission public hearing.
         A.   The Historic Commission shall conduct the public hearing as provided and shall provide an opportunity for all interested parties to express their opinions.
         B.   The Commission shall determine if any or all of the criteria listed in this section have been met.
         C.   The Commission shall then make a recommendation regarding the proposed designation, in writing, within 30 days after the initial hearing date and shall notify the owner or any person having a legal interest in such property, as well as other interested parties who request a copy.
         D.   The Historic Commission shall state in its recommendation findings of fact that constitute the basis for its decision and shall transmit such recommendation concerning the proposed designation to the Middletown City Council.
      (4)   Step 4 - Consideration by City Council.
         A.   The City Council shall give due consideration to the findings and recommendations of the Historic Commission, input provided by the persons participating in the public hearing before the Historic Commission, in addition to the recommendation of the Development Code Administrator, in making its determination with respect to the proposed designation of any areas, places, structures, works of art or similar objects as historic sites or historic districts.
         B.   The City Council may, at its discretion, hold public hearings on any such proposed designation, whether such designation is proposed with the consent of the owner or after public hearings before the Historic Commission. The City Council may then designate by ordinance areas, places, structures, works of art, or similar objects as historic sites or historic districts.
      (5)   Step 5 - Notification of designation.  Within 14 days, the Historic Commission shall notify the Chief Building Official of the official designation. The Commission shall also send, by certified mail, a certified copy of the designation ordinance to the owner and any person having a legal interest in any properties involved in the designation.
      (6)   Step 6 - Record of designation.  The Historic Commission shall direct the Law Director to cause a record of such designation to be filed with the applicable county recorder.
(Ord. O2018-02, passed 2-20-2018; Am. Ord. O2019-104, passed 1-7-2020)