Historic Preservation Q&A

April 1, 2006

Originally appeared in the April 2006 edition of Georgia's Cities.

Our city is interested in establishing a historic preservation program. However, there are concerns that the costs of such a program (increased regulation, etc.) may exceed its benefits. What are some of the economic benefits of historic preservation?
A study released by the Historic Preservation Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources examines the economic impact of historic preservation in the state. The study, "Profiting from the Past: The Economic Impact of Historic Preservation in Georgia," indicates that historic preservation can provide numerous economic benefits in terms of job creation, tourism and revitalization of downtown business districts. Listed below are the economic benefits that are highlighted in the study:
  • Historic Preservation creates jobs. During the period 1992-1996, rehabilitation of historic properties created 7,550 jobs, $201 million in earnings and $559 million in total economic impact on the state economy. These totals only include projects participating in federal and state programs.
  • Historic Preservation enhances property values. Studies in Savannah, Rome, Athens and Tifton have found that properties in designated historic districts often appreciated in value more than similar properties in non-designated areas.
  • Historic Preservation revitalizes communities. Another study, documenting the revitalization of downtown Milledgeville, Rome and Tifton, attributes the turnaround to their participation in the Georgia Main Street program.
  • Visiting historic sites and attractions is popular with Georgia tourists. In 1996, tourists spent over $453 million on historic-related leisure activities, more money than they spent on evening entertainment, cultural events or general sight-seeing activities.
  • Heritage tourism travelers spend more money and stay longer at destinations than the average U.S. traveler. Almost one-half of heritage travelers include two or more states on their itineraries. The average amount of spending per trip was $688 for the heritage traveler and $425 for all other travelers. The average length of stay was 5.2 nights for the heritage traveler and 3.3 nights for all other travelers.
What are some other advantages of having a local historic preservation ordinance?
Cities all across Georgia have adopted local historic preservation ordinances to keep the look and feel of the place they call home. Adopting a local preservation ordinance is one of the best ways a community can begin to protect the historic character of its buildings, neighborhoods and landmarks from inappropriate alterations, incompatible new construction, even outright demolition.

What are the steps in adopting a local historic preservation ordinance?
Georgia has enabling legislation, the Georgia Historic Preservation Act, that prescribes what local ordinances need to include, who can serve on a preservation commission, and the requirements for designating local districts. Complete information on the requirements can be found on the Georgia Historic Preservation Division website in a section entitled: "How To Protect Your Historic Community," located under the Community Assistance section at www.gashpo.org. This section provides a step-by-step process for seeking a local designation and provides sample letters, ordinances and other information that can be adapted locally.

How many cities and counties have historic preservation ordinances?
According to the Georgia Alliance of Preservation Commissions, as of March 2006, 119 cities and counties have historic preservation ordinances, and 73 of those have joined the state's Certified Local Government Program.

What is the Certified Local Government program?
The Certified Local Government (CLG) program assists local governments in their efforts to integrate historic preservation concerns with local planning decisions. The Historic Preservation Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources coordinates the CLG program through the University of Georgia's Center for Community Design and Preservation. This partnership provides assistance to CLGs and historic preservation commissions throughout Georgia.

What are the benefits of becoming a CLG?
The Certified Local Government (CLG) program extends the federal and state preservation partnership to the local level. Any city or county that has enacted a historic preservation ordinance, enforces that ordinance through a local preservation commission and has met requirements outlined in the Procedures for Georgia's Certified Local Government Program is eligible to become a CLG.

The benefits of becoming a CLG include eligibility for federal historic preservation grant funds, the opportunity to review local nominations for the National Register of Historic Places prior to consideration by the Georgia National Register Review Board, opportunities for technical assistance and improved communication and coordination among local, state and federal preservation activities.

What is the difference between a Qualified Local Government (QLG) and a CLG?
QLG and CLG are often confused. In order to qualify for state grants, loans and permits, local governments must be Qualified by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. However, local governments are Certified by the National Park Service. A city must be a QLG in order to become a CLG.

Our city is already a Main Street (or Better Hometown) Community. Should we also become a CLG?
The Main Street and Better Hometown programs emphasize good local organization, promotion, design and economic development and have been adapted to meet the needs of many Georgia towns. Many communities with Main Street or Better Hometown programs also decide to become a CLG. The CLG program serves communities of all sizes to help incorporate historic preservation principles into local government planning initiatives, taking revitalization efforts a step further by offering the protection of a design review process.

Are there opportunities for our historic preservation commission to receive training?
The University of Georgia and the Georgia Alliance of Preservation Commissions jointly sponsor training twice each year. In an effort to reach all communities, the training travels across the state and is hosted by a local community. Training is usually held in the spring and again in the fall.

Training is also available through the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. For more information or to register, please contact the Georgia Trust at 404-885-7806.

Where can I get more information about the CLG program, including technical assistance, grant information and a CLG application?
For more information on the Certified Local Government program, visit the Georgia Historic Preservation Division's website.