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Local HPCs; Local Districts; Local Landmarks
The following statements are taken from the "A Comparison of the National Register of Historic Places with Local Historic Landmark and District Designations" (State Historic Preservation Office, Division of Archives and History, NC Department of Cultural Resources, 4/27/95). Note: colored emphasis and notes added by the City of Burlington.

The Preservation Commission
Local governments may establish a
historic preservation commission under North Carolina G.S. 160 A-400. A preservation commission may carry out a comprehensive preservation program, including recommending individual properties and areas for designation by local governing boards as landmarks and historic districts. While a preservation commission works with both districts and landmarks (as is the case in Burlington), there are also commissions that work solely with districts (called historic landmark commissions or historic properties commissions (e.g. Alamance County).

A local government is not obligated to create a preservation commission, regardless of how many National Register properties and/or districts there might be in the community. Preservation commissions are generally established only where there is sufficient local interest in historic preservation and the local planning environment is responsive to this interest. A preservation commission is established by an ordinance passed by the local governing board (City Council). The organization, operations, and powers of the preservation commission are prescribed by the state enabling legislation. The commission makes recommendations to the local governing board that certain historic landmarks or districts be designated, and such designations are made by local ordinance.

A community may designate local districts and landmarks that are not listed in the National Register. Since the state enabling legislation requires that a designation report be prepared before a local landmark or local district is designated, some local preservation commission use a National Register nomination as the the basis for the local designation report. For this reason the two types of designations are sometimes confused. However, National Register does not mean that local designation will necessarily follow.

Local Landmarks
Landmark designations apply to individual buildings, structures, sites, areas or objects which are studied by the commission and judged to have historical, architectural, archaeological or cultural value. The zoning provides controls on the appearance of existing and proposed buildings. Designation is an honor, meaning the community believes the architecture, history, and character of the area are worthy of recognition and protection. Historic district zoning can help to improve property values by stabilizing and enhancing the neighborhood's character, and it benefits property owners by protecting them from inappropriate changes by other owners that might destroy the special qualities of the neighborhood. Unlike landmark designations, local historic district designation has no effect on local property taxes for property owners within the designated district.

Local Districts
Historic district designation is a type of zoning that applies to entire neighborhoods or other areas that include many historic properties. The zoning provides controls on the appearance of existing and proposed buildings. Designation is an honor, meaning the community believes the architecture, history, and character of the area are worthy of recognition and protection. Historic district zoning can help to improve property values by stabilizing and enhancing the neighborhood's character, and it benefits property owners by protecting them from inappropriate changes by other owners that might destroy the special qualities of the neighborhood. Unlike landmark designations, local historic district designation has no effect on local property taxes for property owners within the designated district.


Certificates of Appropriateness
Owners of local landmarks and of property in local historic districts are required to obtain a certificate of appropriateness from their preservation commission before making significant changes or additions to a property, before beginning new construction, or before demolishing or relocating a property. The commission's review of proposed changes ensures that work on property in districts or on a designated landmark is appropriate to the special character of the district or landmark. A certificate of appropriateness for demolition cannot be denied unless the property is deemed to be of statewide significance by the State Historic Preservation Office. In all other cases, the commission may delay demolition or relocation for up to 365 days to explore alternatives to demolition or relocation.

Federal Tax Benefits and Local Designation
Locally designated landmarks and properties located within local historic districts are generally NOT eligible for federal historic preservation tax credits UNLESS the landmark or district is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places [e.g. West Davis - West Front - Fountain Place]. The only exceptions are those properties in local districts which are not listed in the National Register but which have been certified by the National Park Service as essentially meeting National Register criteria. There are only four such certified local districts in North Carolina.

Special note for residents of the West Davis - West Front - Fountain Place district:
An owner of a property that is BOTH locally designated and listed in the National Register who is seeking federal investment tax credits for a rehabilitation must acquire a local certificate of appropriateness AND federal tax certification through separate applications. Approval for one does not imply or guarantee approval for the other, though in most cases local design review guidelines and federal rehabilitation standards are in concurrence and are mutually reinforcing.