Article I – In General
Sec. 42-1. Purpose.
The purpose of this chapter is to promote the protection, enhancement, perpetuation, and use of improvements of special character or historical interest or value in the interest of the health, prosperity, safety, and welfare of the people of the city by:
(1) Providing a mechanism to identify and preserve the historic and architectural characteristics of the city which represents elements of the city’s cultural, social, economic, political and architectural history.
(2) Promoting civic pride in the beauty and noble accomplishments of the past as represented in the city’s landmarks and historic districts.
(3) Stabilizing and improving the economic vitality and value of the city’s landmarks and historic areas.
(4) Protecting and enhancing the attractiveness of the city to buyers, visitors and shoppers and thereby supporting business, commerce, industry, and providing economic benefit to the city.
(5) Fostering and encouraging preservation, restoration of
structures, areas, and neighborhoods and thereby preventing future urban
(Code 1987, § 29.01)
Sec. 42-2. Definitions.
The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this chapter, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
Addition means any act or process which changes one or more of the exterior architectural features of a structure designated for preservation by adding to, joining with or increasing the size or capacity of the structure.
Alteration means any act or process that changes one or more of the exterior architectural features of a structure, including, but not limited to, the erection, construction, reconstruction, or removal of any structure.
Area means a specific geographic division of the city.
Building means any structure created for the support, shelter or enclosure of persons, animals or property of any kind and which is permanently affixed to the land.
Certificate of appropriateness means a certificate from the historic preservation commission authorizing plans for alterations, construction, removal or demolition of a landmark or site within a designated historic district.
Commission means the Ottawa Historic Preservation Commission.
Commissioners means the voting members of the Ottawa Historic Preservation Commission.
Construction means the act of adding an addition to an existing structure or the erection of a new principal or accessory structure on a lot or property.
Demolition means any act or process that destroys in part or in whole a landmark or site within a historic district.
Design guideline means a standard of appropriate activity that will preserve the historical and architectural character of a structure or area.
Exterior architectural appearance means the architectural and general composition of the exterior of a structure, including, but not limited to, the kind, color, and the texture of the building material and the type, design and character of all windows, doors, light fixtures, signs, and appurtenant elements.
Historic district means an area designated as a historic district by ordinance of the city council and which may contain within definable geographic boundaries one or more landmarks and which may have within its boundaries other properties or structures that, while not of such historical and/or architectural significance to be designated as landmarks, nevertheless contribute to the overall visual characteristics of the landmark or landmarks located within the historic district.
Landmark means any building, structure or site which has been designated as a landmark by ordinance of the city council, pursuant to procedures prescribed in this chapter, that is worthy of rehabilitation, restoration, and preservation because of its historical and/or architectural significance to the city.
Owner of record means the person, corporation, or other legal entity listed as owner on the records of the county recorder of deeds.
Rehabilitation means the 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 and features of the property which are significant to its historical, architectural and cultural values.
Removal means any relocation of a structure on its site or to another site.
Repair means any change that does not require a building permit, that is not construction, relocation or alteration.
Structural change means any change or repair in the supporting members of a building, structure, roof or exterior walls which would expand the building in height, width or bulk of the building.
Structure means anything constructed or erected, the use of which
requires permanent or temporary location on or in the ground, including,
but without limiting the generality of the foregoing, buildings,
fences, gazebos, advertising signs, billboards, backstops for tennis
courts, radio and television antennae, including supporting towers,
swimming pools, satellite dishes, solar panels and wind generation.
(Code 1987, § 29.02)
Cross References: Definitions generally, § 1-2.
Sec. 42-3. Penalties for violation.
Any person violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall be
subject to punishment as provided in section 1-11. If the owner of
property designated as a landmark willfully or through negligence allows
or causes a landmark to be demolished, altered or added to without
complying with this chapter, then no permit to construct a new structure
shall be issued for such property within five years of the date of
(Code 1987, § 29.13)
Sec. 42-4. Acceptance of grants and gifts.
The city council is authorized to accept grants from the state or
federal government, and public or private gifts, for historic
preservation purposes. The council shall advise the commission of the
availability of such funds and the commission shall recommend the manner
in which such funds shall be expended.
(Code 1987, § 29.09)
Sec. 42-5. Additional remedies.
The city may institute proceedings to prevent or remedy any unlawful
construction, addition, alteration or demolition of any landmark or
initiate a proceeding for condemnation pursuant to its eminent domain
(Code 1987, § 29.14)
Secs. 42-6–42-30. Reserved.
Article II – Commission
Sec. 42-31. Establishment.
In order to preserve, promote and develop any building, structure,
object, district, area or site that is significant in the history,
architecture, archaeology or culture of the city, there is established a
historic preservation commission in and for the city.
(Code 1987, § 29.03)
Sec. 42-32. Composition; qualifications of members.
The commission shall consist of seven voting members appointed by the
mayor with the advice and consent of the city council, and with due
regard to proper representation of fields such as history, education,
architecture, urban planning, archaeology, real estate, art and law. All
members of the commission shall reside within the corporate boundaries
of the city. Members who have a pecuniary interest in any matter coming
before the commission for vote shall disclose to the commission that he
has an interest and shall not be entitled to vote on the matter. Such a
member shall be counted for purposes of determining a quorum which shall
be defined as a simple majority of currently appointed members.
(Code 1987, § 29.04)
Sec. 42-33. Terms of office.
Members of the commission shall serve for terms not to exceed three
years, being eligible for reappointment as shall be specified by the
mayor with the advice and consent of the city council. The appointments
shall be so arranged that the term of at least one member shall expire
each year and his successor shall be appointed in a like manner for a
term of three years.
(Code 1987, § 29.05)
Sec. 42-34. Organization.
The commission shall annually elect a chairman and vice-chairman from
its own members and shall establish rules and regulations governing
operation not inconsistent with the provisions of this chapter.
(Code 1987, § 29.06)
Sec. 42-35. Duties.
The duties of the commission shall be as follows:
(1) To collect and organize information suitable for use in planning, review, decision-making and public information programs.
(2) To recommend to the city council the adoption of ordinances designating areas, places, buildings, structures or other objects, including city-owned property, having significant historical, architectural or aesthetic features as city historic districts or landmarks, if they qualify as defined.
(3) To involve departments of city government and interested members of the community as much as possible in its work, and to encourage complementary activity with other agencies and organizations.
(4) To carry out a public information program, including the preparation of appropriate exhibits and publications.
(5) To recommend to the city council any additional measures to protect those portions of the city that have significant historical, architectural or aesthetic features.
(6) To hold a public hearing in designating any area, building, or structure, or any other object, as a city historic district or landmark.
(7) To develop specific design guidelines for the alteration, construction, or removal of landmarks or property and structures within historic districts.
(8) To retain, upon approval by the city council, such specialists as may be required from time to time.
(9) To provide technical assistance to the owners of designated landmarks or structures within historic districts.
(10) To recommend the city’s acquisition by donation, purchase or eminent domain of a fee or lesser interest in designated landmarks and structures within historical districts, including, but not limited to, easements, covenants and leasehold interests; and to reconstruct, maintain, operate or transfer such property so acquired.
(11) To obtain a certified local government status for the city
pursuant to the department of interior’s standards so as to take
advantage of financial and other assistance which may become available
through the department and other sources.
(Code 1987, § 29.07)
Sec. 42-36. Compensation of members; meeting place.
The members of the commission shall serve without compensation. The
city shall provide a meeting place in the city hall or some other
designated city-owned facility, together with the necessary filing space
(Code 1987, § 29.08)
Secs. 42-37–42-70. Reserved.
Article III – Landmarks and Historic Districts
Sec. 42-71. Criteria for designation.
A. Authenticity of Landmarks
The term “integrity,” as used in this section, shall mean the
authenticity of a property’s historic identity, evidenced by the
survival of physical characteristics that existed during the property’s
historic or prehistoric period.
The Ottawa Historic Preservation Commission will consider the “integrity” of a property as the first and foremost criteria for recommendation and placement on the Ottawa Historic Landmark Registry.
B. Other Criteria
The commission shall consider the following criteria in recommending
the designation of areas, places, buildings, structures, works of art
and other objects as city landmarks:
(1) Its significant value as part of the historical, cultural, artistic, social, ethnic, political or other heritage of the community, state or nation.
(2) Its location as a site of significant local, county, state or national event.
(3) Its identification with a person who significantly contributed to the development of the community, county, state or nation.
(4) Its identification as the work of a master builder, designer or architect whose individual work has influenced the development of the community.
(5) Its embodiment of elements of design, detailing, materials or craftsmanship that renders it architecturally significant or innovative.
(6) Its embodiment of distinguishing characteristics of an architectural style valuable for the study of the period, type, method of construction or use of indigenous materials.
(7) Its archaeological significance to the community, county, state or nation for information it has yielded or is likely to yield important to history or prehistory.
(8) Its character as a particularly fine or unique example of utilitarian structure including, but not limited to, farmhouses, gas stations or other commercial structures with a high level of integrity or architectural significance.
(9) Its establishment of a sense of time and place unique to the city.
C. Any structure, site or object that meets one or more of the criteria listed in subsection (a) of this section shall also have sufficient integrity of location, design, elements, and workmanship to make it worthy of preservation.
D. Every reasonable effort shall be made to provide compatible use for a property which requires minimal alteration or to use a property for its originally intended purposes.
E. The commission shall consider the following criteria in recommending the designation of historic districts:
(1) The historic district contains one or more landmarks along with such other buildings, places or areas within its definable geographic boundaries which, while not of such historic significance to be designated as landmarks, nevertheless contribute to the overall visual characteristics of the landmark or landmarks located in such district;
(2) A significant number of structures meeting any of the standards under landmark designation criteria;
(3) Establishing a sense of time and place unique to the city; and/or
(4) Exemplifying or reflecting the cultural, social, economic, political or architectural history of the nation, the state or the city.
(Code 1987, § 29.10) (Ord. 43-2009, Amd. 6-2-09)
Sec. 42-72. Procedures for designating landmarks and historic districts.
(a) A place, building, structure or object may be designated a landmark or an area or district designated a historic district by the city council from recommendations made by the commission. The commission shall provide for consideration of a place, building, structure, object, area or district upon the petition of any person. The commission may recommend any place, building, structure, object, area or district which in the commission’s opinion is within the criteria established pursuant to this article as a landmark or historic district.
(b) A copy of the petition for designation of a landmark or a
historic district shall be sent to the owner or owners of record of the
place, building, structure, object, area or district at least 30 days
before a meeting of the commission to consider the petition. The owner
of record shall have the right to be heard and to present evidence at
such meeting as well as any interested party. The commission’s
recommendation shall be made publicly available for review at least 30
days before the city council acts on the recommendation. Before any
recommendation is approved it shall be considered at a public meeting of
the city council and the public shall have reasonable opportunity to be
(Code 1987, § 29.11)
Sec. 42-73. Additions, alterations and demolitions.
(a) A certificate of appropriateness shall be required before a building permit, moving or building permit or demolition permit is issued for any designated historic landmark or any building, structure or site or part thereof in the historic district. It is required if the building, structure or site will be altered, extended, or repaired in such a manner as to produce a major change in the exterior appearance of such building or structure. Such major changes include, but are not limited to:
(1) Major changes by addition, alteration, maintenance, reconstruction, rehabilitation, renovation or repair.
(2) Any new construction and demolition in whole or in part requiring a permit from the city.
(3) Moving a building.
(4) Any construction, alteration, demolition, or removal affecting a significant exterior architectural feature as specified in the ordinance designating the landmark or historic district.
If the city council determines that a threat to the public health or safety exists, it shall authorize immediate demolition pursuant to subsection (g) of this section.
(b) Within 30 days of the filing for a permit, as required in subsection (a) of this section, any person may make a written request to the commission that a meeting be held on the subject of the proposed action. If such request is made, the commission shall schedule and give notice of the date, time, and place of the meeting. Such notice shall be given at least 30 days before the date of the meeting. Notice of the meeting shall be published in a newspaper having general circulation in the city and a copy of the notice shall be conspicuously posted on or conveniently near the landmark or other property located within a historic district. The meeting shall be held within 60 days from the time of the written request.
(c) Topics to be discussed at this meeting shall include, but not be limited to, methods for carrying out the proposed act so as to avoid the adverse effect, the feasibility of minimizing the adverse effect, methods for preserving the landmark or other property located within a historic district, ways to finance the preservation, and possible alternatives to the proposed action.
(d) The commission shall aid all interested parties to explore every possible avenue for the substantial preservation of the landmark or other property located within a historic district, including, but not limited to, minimal modification or acquisition by a public body for use or preservation. Within 30 days following the meeting, the commission shall:
(1) Recommend to the city council that a certificate of appropriateness be issued if the commission determines that the:
a. Person filing notice of the proposed act has negotiated with the commission in good faith and further negotiation or delay would not be productive; or
b. Proposed action would not have an impact significant enough to warrant further delay.
(2) Recommend to the city council that a certificate of appropriateness be issued if the person filing notice of the proposed action agrees to modifications of such proposed action stipulated by the commission.
(3) Delay the recommendation for the issuance of a certificate of appropriateness for a period of up to 90 days if the commission determines it cannot issue such certificate under the provisions of subsection (d)(1) or (d)(2) of this section. At any time up to such 90 days, the commission may require the owner of record to the landmark or other property located within a historic district, to bargain in good faith with the commission concerning the ultimate use of or any alteration or addition that may affect the landmark or other property located within a historic district, or to examine all possible resources to provide for the documentation by measured drawings, photographs or archeological salvage, or all of such documentation methods, to provide a lasting record of the appearance, character and significance of the landmark or other property located within a historic district.
(e) If within 30 days of the receipt of the notice required by subsection (b) of this section no meeting is requested, the commission shall aid all interested parties to explore every possible avenue for the substantial preservation of the landmark or other property located within a historic district including, but not limited to, minimal modification or acquisition by a public body for use or preservation within 120 days of the receipt of such notice required by subsection (b) of this section the commission shall take one of the actions prescribed by subsection (d)(1), (d)(2) or (d)(3) of this section.
(f) In any case where the commission has delayed the recommendation for the issuance of a certificate of appropriateness pursuant to subsection (d)(3) of this section and 90 days have elapsed without the issuance of such certificate, the city council shall issue such certificate at the request of the person filing notice of the proposed act.
(g) In any case where the commission determines that an imminent
threat to the public health or safety exists due to the condition of the
landmark, it shall waive all requirements of this article for public
notice and meeting and immediately recommend to the city council that it
issue a certificate of appropriateness.
(Code 1987, § 29.12)