FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

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What is a Historic District?

It is an area that has been researched and officially designated by Local and State/Federal government.

What are the qualifications to be considered historic?

Buildings and neighborhoods must be over fifty years old, and still retain enough original integrity to convey a sense of time and place.

What are the benefits of a Historic District?

Provides community recognition and neighborhood pride.

Protects historic buildings and encourages appropriate restoration.

Sparks revitalization and rebirth of neighborhoods.

Stabilizes and improves property values.

Saves our cultural heritage for our community and our children.

Encourages neighbor to neighbor contact, reducing crime and increasing security.

Provides a Michigan Tax Credit for improvements to contributing properties.

What is the Michigan Tax Credit (Form 3581)?

Properties must be in a Historic District, and must be a Contributing property (most are).  A 25% tax credit may be earned on improvements totaling 10% or more of the property SEV (State Equalized Value).  For example, $4,000 of improvements on a building with a $40,000 SEV would yield a $1,000 tax credit!  A link to Form 3581 is provided on the Resources page.  Contact the State before you begin work to ensure you get your credit.  For more information contact Brian Lijewski, Incentives Section, State Historic Preservation Office at (517) 373-1630 or lijewskib@michigan.gov

What improvements qualify for the Michigan Tax Credit?

Utilities as well as architectural improvements qualify.  Examples include roofing, electrical, central heating and air conditioning, porch restoration, etc

What are the responsibilities associated with a Historic District?

Property owners have always been required to apply for a Permit before major work is performed on a building.  Permits for siding, windows, porches, additions, and similar work in a Historic District are reviewed first by the Historic District Commission.  HDC approved is required before the Permit application goes to the Building Department for review.

What is the Historic District Commission?

It is a group of citizens appointed by City Council, and are responsible for all the Historic Districts within the city.

What is the purpose of the Historic District Commission?

The HDC reviews exterior work Permit Applications to ensure proposed work complies with local historic guidelines, which are based upon Secretary of the Interior Standards.  The HDC is primarily interested in “curb appeal”.  Exterior building improvements are encouraged to be architecturally appropriate.  The removal of porches, covering of architectural details, and other inappropriate changes damage a Historic District’s character and surrounding property values, and are to be avoided.

Does the Historic District Commission review Permits for Interior work?

No, only exterior Permits.

Does the Historic District Commission review Permits for Paint colors?

No.

Is a property owner required to work on their building to restore it?

Property owners are NOT required to make improvements to their buildings.  IF a property owner chooses to make improvements, only then will the HDC review the Permit.