Historic Landmarks Commission

Members and Expirations

  • Terrell Ellis (citizen/planner) 9-1-2015
  • Paul Tennant (architect) 9-1-2013
  • Bill Melton (real estate broker) 9-1-2014
  • Billy Peyton (structural historian) 9-1-2015
  • Jody Connell (MPC/former member of City Council) 9-1-2014
  • Geoffrey Plagemann (staff liaison to commission)

Requirements

Members shall be appointed by the Mayor with the advice and consent of City Council and shall serve initial terms of one year, two years, two years, three years and three years respectively, with all subsequent terms to be of three years duration. Vacancies shall be filled by election for the unexpired term in the same manner as provided above.

The Charleston Historic Landmarks Commission shall consist of five members and shall be comprised as follows: an architect meeting the professional qualification standards published in the Code of Federal Regulations, 36 CFR Part 61; a structural historian meeting the professional qualification standards published in the Code of Federal Regulations, 36 CFR Part 61; a real estate broker; a member of City Council or a member of the Municipal Planning Commission; and an interested citizen or layperson. All members shall have a demonstrated interest, competence or knowledge in historic preservation and local history and, to the extent available in the community, shall be preservation- related professionals. Members who are not professionally qualified shall demonstrate a vocational experience in preservation and associated disciplines. Members shall reside within the City of Charleston and shall represent diverse geographic areas of the City. No employee of the City of Charleston shall be eligible to serve on the Commission.

  • Members: 5
  • Appointed by: Mayor
  • Council Confirmed

Chapter Two

Article VII - Division 10. Charleston Historic Landmarks Commission

Sec. 2-690 Findings.

It is hereby declared as a matter of legislative determination:

* That the city of Charleston is richly endowed with numerous historic buildings, structures, sites and districts which represent the historical, architectural and cultural heritage of the City;
* That Charleston’s heritage, represented by such historic buildings, structures, sites and districts can best be identified, studied, preserved and protected for the general welfare of residents of the City by authorizing and empowering action for this purpose at the local level;
* That the preservation and protection of such historic buildings, structures, sites and districts aid economic development through revitalization of the City’s central business district and urban neighborhoods, improvement of property values and enhancement of the City’s historic attractions to tourists and visitors; and aid the development of education by preservation of such heritage for future generations;
* That the preservation of this heritage is essential to the promotion of the prosperity, education and general welfare of the people; and
* That City Council hereby finds that it is the public policy and the public interest of this City to engage in a comprehensive program of historic preservation, undertaken at all levels of government, along with the private sector, to promote the use and preservation of such heritage for the education and general welfare of the people of this City; and, accordingly, this article shall be broadly construed in order to accomplish the purposes herein set forth.

Sec. 2-691 Creation.

The Charleston Historic Landmarks Commission is hereby created and shall exist as an agency of the City to identify study, preserve and protect the historic landscape. The creation of the Commission is authorized by §8-26A of the State Code of West Virginia of 1931, as amended.

Sec. 2-692 Definitions.
As used in this article:

* "Exterior architectural features" include the architectural character and general composition of the exterior of a structure, including, but not limited to, the type and texture of the building material, design and character of all windows, doors, light fixtures, signs, other appurtenant elements and natural features when they are integral to the significance of the site, all of which are subject to public view from a public street, way or place.
* "Historic district" is a geographically definable area possessing a significant concentration, linkage or continuity of sites buildings, structures or objects united historically or aesthetically by plan or physical development.
* "Historic landmark" is a site, building, structure or object designated as a "Landmark" either on a national, state or local register.
* "Historic site" is the location of a significant event, a prehistoric or historic occupation or activity, or a building or structure, whether standing, ruined or vanished, where the location itself possesses historical, cultural or archaeological value regardless of the value of any existing structure.
* “Secretary of the Interior’s Standards” are the standards and guidelines adopted and published by the National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior, for the rehabilitation of historic sites or properties.
* “State Historic Preservation Office” is the subdivision of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History charged with the administration of federal and state laws, rules and regulations applicable to historic sites or properties, historic landmarks and historic districts or real properties, structures, buildings and other improvements that are eligible to become historic sites, historic landmarks and historic designations based on the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards.

 

Sec. 2-693 Composition and Organization.

Composition. The Charleston Historic Landmarks Commission shall consist of five members and shall be comprised as follows: an architect meeting the professional qualification standards published in the Code of Federal Regulations, 36 CFR Part 61; a structural historian meeting the professional qualification standards published in the Code of Federal Regulations, 36 CFR Part 61; a real estate broker; a member of City Council or a member of the Municipal Planning Commission; and an interested citizen or layperson. All members shall have a demonstrated interest, competence or knowledge in historic preservation and local history and, to the extent available in the community, shall be preservation-related professionals. Members who are not professionally qualified shall demonstrate a vocational experience in preservation and associated disciplines. Members shall reside within the City of Charleston and shall represent diverse geographic areas of the City. No employee of the City of Charleston shall be eligible to serve on the Commission.

Election and Terms of Service. Members shall be appointed by the Mayor with the advice and consent of City Council and shall serve initial terms of one year, two years, two years, three years and three years respectively, with all subsequent terms to be of three years duration. Vacancies shall be filled by election for the unexpired term in the same manner as provided above.

Service without Compensation. All members shall serve without compensation but may be reimbursed for reasonable expenses arising out of the performance of their duties.

Governance. Members of the Commission shall select annually from its membership a chairman, vice-chairman, treasurer and other officers as it determines necessary for the performance of its duties.

Meetings. The Commission shall meet monthly and may meet more frequently if it elects. The Commission may convene its meetings on the site or sites of real properties in issue with the consent of property owners.

Quorum. A majority of the members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum. A majority vote of the members present at a meeting shall be required for any action or decision of the Commission.

Parliamentary Procedure. The Commission shall adopt such rules and hold such meetings as shall be necessary or convenient for the transaction of its business under established rules of parliamentary procedure.

Sec. 2-694 Powers and Duties.

The Charleston Historic Landmarks Commission shall have the following powers and duties:

* Make a survey of, and designate as historic landmarks, buildings, structures and districts which constitute the principal historical and architectural sites which are of local, regional, statewide or national significance in accordance with Sec. 2-695 of this article;
* Prepare a register of buildings, structures, sites and districts which meet the requirements of subsection (a) of this section, publish lists of such properties and, with the consent of the property owners, inspect such properties from time to time and publish a register thereof from time to time setting forth appropriate information concerning the registered buildings, structures, sites and districts;
* Review applications for certificates of appropriateness and grant or deny the same in accordance with Sec. 2-696 of this article;
* With the consent of the property owners, mark with appropriately designed markers, buildings, structures and sites which it has registered;
* Establish standards for the care and management of designated historic landmarks and withdraw such certification for failure to maintain the standards so prescribed;
* Acquire by purchase, gift or lease and administer registered landmarks and easements and interests therein, both real and personal;
* Lease or sell property so acquired under terms and conditions designed to ensure the proper preservation of the historic landmark in question;
* Aid and encourage the City to adopt ordinances and resolutions for the preservation of landmarks and historic districts, their buildings, structures and character;
* Prepare and place historical markers on or along the highway or street closest to the location which is intended to be identified by such marker;
* Seek the advice and assistance of individuals, groups and departments and agencies of government who or which are conducting historical preservation programs and coordinate the same insofar as possible;
* Seek and accept gifts, bequests, endowments and funds from any and all sources for the accomplishment of the functions of the commission;
* Adopt rules and regulations concerning the operation of the commission, the functions and responsibilities of its officers, employees, assistants and other personnel and such other matters as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this article; and
* Adopt such other rules and regulations as may be deemed necessary to effectuate the purposes of this article, but no such rules and regulations shall be inconsistent with any plan of the Municipal Planning Commission: Provided, that in no case shall such rules and regulations take precedence over the duly enacted ordinances of the City.

Sec. 2-695 Designation of historic properties and historic districts with review for certificates of appropriateness.

Prior to designation of an historic landmark or historic district that includes review of certificate of appropriateness’s by the Commission , the Commission shall make or cause to be made a report on the historical, cultural, architectural significance of each building, structure, site and district proposed for designation, based upon the following standards:

* No building, structure, site or district shall be deemed to be an historic one unless it has been prominently identified with or best represents, some major aspect of the cultural, political, economic, military or social history of the City, region, state or nation, or has had a major relationship with the life of an historic personage or event representing some major aspect of, or ideals related to, the history of the City, region, state or nation. In the case of buildings or structures which are to be so designated, they shall embody the principal or unique features of an architectural type or demonstrate the style of a period of our history or method of construction, or serve as an illustration of the work of a master builder, designer or architect whose genius influenced the period in which he worked or has significance in current times.

* The Commission shall submit such report, including maps and photographs as necessary, to the State Historic Preservation Office and the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. In the case of a report for a proposed historic district, the commission shall submit with the report a map showing boundaries of the proposed district.

In the event that a historic district or historic property is to be subject to review of certificates of appropriateness by the Historic Landmarks Commission, then upon a nomination by the Commission, the City Council shall hold a public hearing on the proposed designation of the historic property or historic district, and any proposed regulations and requirements for the historic district. Notice of the hearing shall be published at least two times in the principal newspaper of general circulation within the City; and written notice of the hearing shall be mailed by certified mail with signed return receipt required by the Commission to all owners and occupants of such properties. All the notices shall be published or mailed not less than ten nor more than twenty days prior to the date set for the public hearing. Following the public hearing, unless the owner of a proposed property or fifty percent of the ownership interest in a proposed district objects in writing by a notarized letter to such designation or regulations and requirements within thirty days following the public hearing, the local governing body may designate the property or properties as historic, and approve, amend or reject the proposed regulations or requirements. The notarized letter must state the party is the sole or partial owner of the property.

Within thirty days following such designation or approval, the owners and occupants of each designated historic property shall be given written notification of such designation or approval by City Council, which notice shall apprise said owners and occupants of the necessity of obtaining a certificate of appropriateness prior to undertaking any material change in the appearance of the historic site, property or landmark designated or within an historic district.

Any such designated historic landmark or district designated under this ordinance shall be shown on the official zoning map of the City and kept by the City as a public record to provide notice of such designation in addition to other such notification requirements of this section.

The East End Historic District shall be deemed a lawfully created historic district at the time of enactment of the creation of the Historic Landmarks Commission and shall be subject to rules and regulations in regard to review of certificate of appropriateness’s by the Historic Landmarks Commission.

Sec. 2-696 Certificate of appropriateness, review procedures, variances and appeals.

The Charleston Historic Landmarks Commission shall exercise authority to issue certificates of appropriateness to regulate new construction, alteration, removal or demolition of buildings, sites or structures within an historic district or individually designated as an historic landmark or site when authorized by ordinance under the provisions of section 2-695 and according to the following provisions:

* No private building, site or structure shall be erected, altered, restored, moved or demolished until after an application for a certificate of appropriateness as to exterior architectural features has been submitted to and approved by the Commission, except as otherwise provided by City Council or as provided by rules, regulations, policies, procedures and standards adopted and published by the Commission. For the purposes of this article, "exterior architectural features" shall include such portion of the exterior of a structure as is open to view from a public street, way or place.
* Similarly, if earthworks of historical or archaeological importance exist in the historic district there shall be no excavating or moving of earth, rock or subsoil or any development upon or around earthworks without a certificate of appropriateness.
* The style, material, size and location of outdoor advertising signs and bill posters shall be under the control of the Commission.

The Commission may request such plans, elevations, specifications, drawings, photographs and other information as may be reasonably deemed necessary to enable it to make a determination on the application for a certificate of appropriateness.

The Commission shall hold a public hearing upon each application for a certificate of appropriateness. Notice of the time and place of said hearing shall be given by publication in a newspaper having general circulation in the City at least seven days before such hearing, and by posting such notice on or near the main entrance of any hall or room where the Commission usually meets. The Commission shall take such action as required to inform the owners of any property likely to be affected by the application and shall give the applicant and such owners an opportunity to be heard.

The Commission shall consider an application for a certificate of appropriateness within forty-five days after the filing thereof by the owner or occupant of an historic property or a building, site or structure located within an historic district. Evidence of approval shall be by a certificate of appropriateness issued by the Commission.

In passing upon the appropriateness of proposed action, the Commission shall consider, in addition to any other pertinent factors, the historical and architectural integrity and significance; architectural style; design, arrangement, texture and materials of exterior architectural features; and the relationship and general compatibility thereof to the historical value and exterior architectural style and pertinent features of other structures in the surrounding area.

The Commission shall approve the application and issue a certificate of appropriateness if it finds that the proposed action would be appropriate. In the event an application is rejected, the Commission shall put the rejection and the reasons therefore in writing, and shall transmit such written record to the applicant. The written record may include recommendations relative to design, arrangement, texture, material and similar features. The applicant may make modifications to the plans and resubmit the application at any time after doing so.

In cases where the application covers a material change in the appearance of a structure which would require the issuance of a building permit, the rejection of an application for a certificate of appropriateness by the Commission shall be binding upon the building inspector or other administrative office charged with issuing building permits.

Where such action is reasonably necessary or appropriate for the preservation of a unique historic property, the Commission may enter into negotiations with the owner for the acquisition by gift, purchase, exchange or otherwise of the property or any interest therein.

If the strict application of any provision of this article would result in exceptional practical difficulty or undue economic hardship upon any owner of any specific property, the Commission, in passing upon applications, shall have the power to vary or modify strict adherence to the provisions or to interpret the meaning of the provision so as to relieve such difficulty or hardship: Provided, That such variance, modification or interpretation shall remain in harmony with the general purpose and intent of the provisions so that architectural or historical integrity or character of the property shall be conserved and substantial justice done. In granting variations, the commission may impose such reasonable and additional stipulations and conditions as will in its judgment best fulfill the purpose of this article.

The Commission shall keep a record of all applications for certificates of appropriateness and of all its proceedings.

Any person adversely affected by any determinations made by the Commission relative to the issuance or denial of a certificate of appropriateness may appeal such determination to the Kanawha County Circuit Court.

Nothing in this article shall be construed to prevent the ordinary maintenance or repair of any exterior architectural feature in or on an historic property, which maintenance or repair does not involve a material change in design, material or outer appearance thereof, nor to prevent any property owner from making any use of his property not prohibited by other laws, ordinances or regulations.

Undertakings permitted, funded, licensed or otherwise assisted by the state shall be reviewed in accordance with subsection (e), section five, article one, chapter twenty-nine of the State Code of West Virginia of 1931, as amended, shall be considered exempt from review for certification of appropriateness as described in this section.

Sec. 2-697 Conflict.

The historic district and property regulations provided in this article are intended to identify, study, preserve and protect historic buildings, structures, sites and districts within the boundaries of a zoning district. Such properties are subject to the regulations for the base zoning district and the historic district or property. If there is a conflict between the requirements of the zoning district and the requirements of the historic district or property, the zoning district requirements apply.

Sec. 2-698 Court action or proceedings to prevent improper changes or illegal conduct.

The City and the Charleston Historic Landmarks Commission shall be authorized to institute any appropriate action or proceeding in a court of competent jurisdiction to prevent any material change in the appearance of a designated historic property or historic district, except those changes made in compliance with the provisions of this article or to prevent any illegal acts or conduct with respect to such historic property or historic district. 

Sec. 2-699 Violations and penalties.

Violations of any such ordinance adopted in conformity with this article shall be punishable by a fine up to ten percent of the total cost of the project requiring a certificate of appropriateness or five hundred dollars, whichever is greater, or imprisoned in the county jail not more than six months, or both fined and imprisoned.

Sec. 2-700 Notice to county assessor of designation of historic district.

When the Commission establishes an historic district, it shall notify the Kanawha County Assessor of the fact of such establishment and the boundaries of the district, together with the restrictions which are applicable to the properties located in such district. The Assessor shall take such factors into consideration in assessing the properties therein.

Sec. 2-701 Reporting.

The Commission shall submit an annual report to the City of Charleston and the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.