Historic Preservation Planning

Why Plan for Historic Preservation?

Historic properties have a way of disappearing. They fall prey to demolition, neglect, or renovations that alter them beyond recognition. Building by building, site by site, the evidence of a community’s heritage can gradually be lost through private and public action or inaction, taking with it much of the community’s character, individuality, and vitality.

Like any limited resource, historic properties need careful planning and management to ensure their survival for current and future generations. They are subject to the complex pressures and issues of modern society, and often their preservation appears to be at odds with the immediate needs for affordable housing, economic revitalization, employment, education, and so on.

Preservation of our heritage is not a mere luxury. It actually helps combat the very problems that plague our communities by stabilizing neighborhoods, providing affordable housing, lowering crime, stimulating private investment, bringing people and businesses back downtown, attracting tourists, and strengthening community pride.

There are numerous ways a community can work to preserve its historic properties. These include: a historic preservation ordinance or resolution, zoning, demolition moratoria, downtown revitalization programs, local economic incentives, promoting use of the state and federal rehabilitation tax credits (especially in combination with the low-income housing tax credit), and public education programs. The best approach is to use a combination of tools, especially chosen and integrated to suit local needs. Again, this means planning.

What is a Historic Preservation Plan?
A historic preservation plan is a statement of the community’s goals for its historic properties and the actions it will take to reach those goals. It is most effective when it is a component of a community’s master plan and is coordinated with other policies for housing, economic development, transportation, et cetera. Communities that do not have a master plan, or that will not be revising it soon, can create a separate historic preservation plan to serve in the interim.

The plan is not only a written document but a continuous process that brings together citizens and interest groups and helps them identify where their diverse goals complement historic preservation and how they can work together to preserve their local heritage.

Elements of a Historic Preservation Plan

Historic preservation planning should include these elements:

  • Documentation of the history of a community and its historic properties. In order to plan for historic properties, a community must identify them first. A thorough and up-to-date historic properties survey may be a good initial goal of a plan. Keep in mind that your community’s history is found not only in architectural masterpieces, but in middle and working class neighborhoods, modest commercial districts, industrial buildings, farm buildings, bridges, landscapes, and archaeological sites.
  • An assessment of the current situation in the community, including factors such as local legislation and financial incentives that might affect historic preservation.
  • A map and address list of known historic properties from surveys, local historic districts and landmarks, and the National Register of Historic Places.
  • A list of community goals for preservation based on direct public participation in the planning process.

Ohio’s Historic Preservation Plan

With public input from around the state, the State Historic Preservation Office has created a state historic preservation plan titled Reconciliation, Recovery and Resilience: A Historic Preservation Plan for Ohioans, 2023-2030. Ohio’s historic preservation plan helps set a direction for historic preservation efforts throughout the state and brings attention to the most urgent needs.

What Can You Do?

  • Work with your local government to plan carefully for the future of the places that are evidence of your community’s heritage. If you have a historic preservation plan, make sure it is up-to-date and is being implemented.
  • Establish local historic preservation legislation Protect your historic resources through an ordinance or resolution, or make sure the existing legislation is adequate and that the properties that need protection have indeed been designated as historic. To assist your community in drafting historic preservation legislation, the State Historic Preservation Office has created a model