On December 15, 2015, the Village Council adopted a new Historic Preservation Ordinance, see Chapter 12 of the Downers Grove Municipal Code. The ordinance was the result of extensive community participation at both the Architectural Design Review Board, now referred to as the Historic Preservation and Design Review Board (HPDRB) / Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Historic Preservation meetings and Village Council meetings.
The ordinance includes two types of historic districts: contiguous and thematic.
A contiguous district would consist of two or more adjacent properties. In order for the nomination to be considered by the Village, 51% of the property owners within the proposed district must agree to apply. Once established, the character of the properties would be preserved through a Certificate of Appropriateness process which would require certain external modifications or improvements which are visible from the street to be approved by the HPDRB.
While the contiguous district was part of the previous ordinance, the concept of a thematic district is new. This type of district would allow the owners of properties of similar character or significance to form a historic district whether the properties are adjacent to each other or located throughout the Village. For example, the owners of Victorian-style homes located throughout the Village could form a district. A thematic district application requires consent by 100% of owners.
The ordinance also reduces regulations that deter participation in preservation efforts, such as regulations regarding the Certificate of Appropriateness. Under the ordinance, only exterior changes or modifications that require a building permit (excluding doors or windows) or are visible from a street would be subject to the Certificate of Appropriateness.
The ordinance maintains provisions to protect property owners from allowing others, including the Village, to enact preservation regulations without the owner's consent, The ordinance also maintains the Historic Preservation and Design Review Board as the Village’s Historic Preservation Commission
Is your home a Historic Landmark?
Residents using the Village's new Historic Resource Application need only to enter an address to find out if their property is a potential Historic Landmark in Downers Grove.
The application provides historic information identified in three previous surveys:
- The early 1970s State of Illinois Historic Architectural and Archaeology Resources Geographic Information System (HAARGIS) survey.
- The 2009 Village Historic Preservation Plan identifies HAARGIS buildings, designated Downers Grove Historical Society properties, and Sears Homes.
- The 2013 Village Historic Building Survey surveyed 865 properites in Denburn Woods, Shady Lane Estates, E.H. Prince Subdivision and Maple Avenue/Main Street corridor
The Village has mapped the properties identified in these documents on this map to help property owners determine if their home is a potential Historic Landmark.
Designated Historic Landmarks
Village designated landmarks and documents supporting their designation are below.
How do I make my property a Historic Landmark?
The designation of your property as a Historic Landmark follows these four primary steps:
- Preliminary meeting with Community Development staff to discuss your property and its historic significance. Contact staff at 630-434-5515 to set up a meeting.
- Submittal of an application for Historic Landmark Designation.
EXAMPLE: Ehr House application
- Public hearing before the Architectural Design Review Board.
- Consideration before the Village Council.
How do I apply for a Historic District?
- Preliminary meeting with Community Development staff to discuss your the proposed district and its historic significance. Contact staff at 630-434-5515 to set up a meeting.
- Submittal of an application for Historic District Designation.
- Public hearing before the Historic Preservation and Design Review Board.
- Consideration before the Village Council.
How do I apply for a Certificate of Appropriateness?
A Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) is required before any addition, alteration or construction begins that affects the primary building facades exterior architectural features of any designated landmark or contributing building or significant building within a historic district. Below are the steps to obtain a COA.
- Preliminary meeting with Community Development staff to discuss the proposed project and determine if a COA is required. If a COA is required, staff can determine if it is classified as a minor or major COA. Contact staff at 630-434-5515 to set up a meeting.
- Submittal of an application for a Certificate of Appropriateness.
- A minor COA can be completed administratively by the Community Development staff.
- A major COA requires a public hearing before the Historic Preservation and Design Review Board.
Property Tax Assessment Freeze Program
The Village was recently approved to be a part of the Property Tax Assessment Freeze Program administered by the Illinois State Historic Preservation Office (IL SHPO) in the Department of Natural Resources. The free program is administered by the IL SHPO as a benefit to historic landmark property owners who are interested in rehabilitating their historic homes. The program can freeze the assessed value of the historic, owner-occupied, principal residence for a period of 8 years, followed by a four-year period during which the property’s assessed value steps up to an amount based upon its current market value. This results in 11 years of reduced property taxes.
If you are a historic landmark property owner who is thinking about rehabilitating your landmarked house and are interested in the program, contact Carol Dyson, IHPA Chief Architect and Tax Incentives Coordinator (email@example.com or 217-524-0276) in advance of your rehabilitation project.
For more information on this free program, visit http://www2.illinois.gov/ihpa/Preserve/Pages/taxfreeze.aspx