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 blight.
(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 issued by the city council after a hearing and recommendation on the application from the historic preservation commission authorizing specific plans for alterations, construction, removal or demolition of a historic landmark or a building or site located in a designated historic district, or recommending denial of the certificate of appropriateness.
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; Ord. No. O15-2022 , § 1, 4-29-2022)
Cross reference(s)—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 demolition.
(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 authority.
(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 nine 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; Ord. No. O18-2019, § 1, 4-30-2019)
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 for records.
(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 (b) 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. No. O43-2009, § 1, 6-2-2009)
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 heard.
(Code 1987, § 29.11)
Sec. 42-73. Additions, alterations and demolitions.
(a) Certificate of appropriateness. A certificate of appropriateness shall be issued prior to the submission of a building permit application or demolition permit application for any designated historic landmark or any building, structure, or site or part thereof in the historic district. The certificate of appropriateness will be required if the building, structure or site will be altered or repaired in such a manner as to produce a change in the appearance of such building, structure or site. Such changes include, but are not limited to:
(1) Major changes by addition, alteration, maintenance, reconstruction, rehabilitation, renovation or repair to the building, structure or site.
(2) Any new construction and/or demolition in whole or in part requiring a permit from the city to any historic landmark or any building, structure or site in a historic district.
(3) Any construction, alteration, demolition, or removal affecting an exterior architectural feature as specified in the ordinance designating the landmark or historic district.
(b) Application. To request a certificate of appropriateness, the owner, leaseholder, a person with a possessory interest entitled to exclusive possession or a contractual interest in the property must submit an application to the commission, in narrative or graphic form, with the following items of information:
(1) Name, address, phone number, and email of the person submitting the application;
(2) Address of the subject property which the request is for and whether the applicant is the owner, leaseholder, or the type of property interest the applicant has in the subject property;
(3) Sketch or drawing of the subject property with the proposed action to the subject property and/or providing any engineering plans, architectural plans, site plans, or any conceptual drawings the applicant has for the proposed action;
(4) A short narrative describing the proposed action.
(c) Notice. Once an application is received, the commission will set a date, time, and place of the meeting on the application. Notice of the meeting will be given to the applicant at least 30 days prior to the meeting and a notice will be conspicuously posted on or conveniently near the landmark or other property located within a historic district at least 15 days prior to the meeting. The meeting will be held within 60 days from the time the application was submitted, and the meeting may be continued from time to time if necessary.
(d) Standards. When the commission is determining whether a certificate of appropriateness should be recommended, the commission shall discuss the impact of the proposed action to the designated historic landmark or the historic district, and those topics include, but are not limited to:
(1) Whether the proposed action will alter the essential character of the historic landmark or the historic district;
(2) Whether the proposed action is necessary for the preservation of the building;
(3) Methods for carrying out the proposed act so as to avoid any adverse effect;
(4) The feasibility of minimizing any adverse effects;
(5) Methods for preserving the historic landmark or other property located within a historic district;
(6) Ways to finance the preservation; and
(7) Possible alternatives or impositions to the proposed action to minimize any adverse effects.
(e) Recommendation. Within 30 days of the conclusion of the meeting, the commission, by majority vote, shall make a written recommendation to the city council recommending the city council:
(1) Issue a certificate of appropriateness if the commission determines the proposed action would not have a significant impact to the designated historic landmark or the historic district;
(2) Issue a certificate of appropriateness with specific conditions and/or restrictions to minimize the effects on the designated historic landmark or historic district and to better carry out the general intent of this article; or
(3) Deny the certificate of appropriateness if the proposed action has a significant impact to the designated historic landmark or historic district and specify to the city council what those significant impacts are.
(f) Decision of the city council. Within 30 days of receipt of the commission’s written decision, the city council shall:
(1) Pass an ordinance by simple majority vote to concur with the recommendation of the commission and either issue the certificate of appropriateness, issue the certificate of appropriateness with the recommended modifications, or deny the certificate of appropriateness;
(2) Pass an ordinance by simple majority vote to concur with the recommendation of the Commission to issue a certificate of appropriateness, but include additional specific conditions on the certificate of appropriateness not recommended by the commission; or
(3) If the city council does not concur with the written recommendation of the commission to either grant or deny the certificate of appropriateness, the city council may by the favorable vote of four members of the city council pass an ordinance either issuing the certificate of appropriateness or denying the certificate of appropriateness in contradiction of the commission’s recommendation.
(g) Issuance of permit. The ordinance approving the certificate of appropriateness will be required prior to the permit application submission and issuance of any permit by the building official for any proposed action to any historic landmark or building, structure or site in a designated historic district that is subject to this section. The issuance of the certificate of appropriateness does not guarantee the requested permit will be issued and the building official will still ensure all required federal, state, and local laws and ordinances are complied with and fees paid prior to issuing the permit.
(h) Imminent threat. In any case where the commission determines an imminent threat to the public health or safety exists due to the condition of a historic landmark or building or structure in a designated historic district, the commission will waive all requirements of this article for public notice and meeting and will immediately recommend to the city council a certificate of appropriateness be issued. If the city council agrees a threat to the public health or safety exists, it shall immediately issue a certificate of appropriateness.
(Code 1987, § 29.12; Ord. No. O15-2022 , § 2, 4-29-2022)
Cross reference(s)—Buildings and building regulations, ch. 22; planning, ch. 74; utilities, ch. 106; zoning, ch. 118.
State law reference(s)—Preservation of historical and other special areas, 65 ILCS 5/11-48.2-1 et seq.
Cross reference(s)—Boards, commissions and committees, § 2-441 et seq.