|Frequently Asked Questions
Q.1 Why is the Village considering a historic preservation ordinance?
The Village has a wonderful character and we all desire to preserve its charm.
One of the three considerations vital to that effort is historic preservation.
(The other two are the environment and economic vitality.) Many homes and other
buildings in the Village have local or regional historic significance. The
Village desires to create a mechanism to protect some of these historical
Q.2. What does it mean for my property to be designated as historic?
The designation of a house or other building as historic, or a historic
landmark, means that the building has special qualities that are worthy of
preservation, perhaps because it is architecturally important, or was the home
of an important person, or was the place or an important event, or for some
other reason significant to the community or the country.
Q.3. Are there financial benefits from a historic designation?
There sometimes are property tax benefits for residential property owners
undergoing significant restoration. The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
offers a property tax freeze program for certified historic residences that are
being rehabilitated. In that program, the assessed valuation is frozen for eight
years and gradually brought back to market level over four more years. To
qualify, the owner occupant must spend at least 25 percent of the property’s
market value on an approved project that significantly improves the condition of
Q.4. What if I don’t want my house to be designated as a landmark?
If you don’t want your house to be designated, then it cannot be designated. No
house or other building can be designated unless the owner asks for designation.
The historic preservation ordinance drafted by the Task Force provides for a
purely voluntary program—only the owner of a property can submit that property
for consideration. No person other than the owner can submit an application for
Q.5. Is it possible for my house to become part of a historic district
without my consent?
No. The Village’s proposed ordinance creating the program for historic
preservation does not include any provisions for “historic districts.” The
Village’s task force recommends that we start only with voluntary designations
of individual properties. If in the future residents believe that the creation
of a historic district would be beneficial, then we can consider whether to do
so. At this time, the Village has not undertaken a survey that would indicate
whether there is an area in the Village where a district would be appropriate.
Q.6. What is the role of the Historic Preservation Commission?
The Historic Preservation Commission will be comprised of Village residents.
They will review applications for historic designation. The HPC will make
recommendations to the Village Council, which will make the final decision on
whether to designate a property as historic. In addition, the HPC will review
exterior improvement projects on properties that already are designated as
historic and will issue “certificate of appropriateness,” which indicate that
the improvement will not damage the historical significance of the building. The
HPC also may conduct surveys of the Village in an effort to discover buildings
and places that may have historical significance.
Q.7. If my house is designated as a historic landmark, will I be able to
renovate my house in the future?
Yes. The Village’s proposed ordinance does not prevent renovation work. The
owner of a historic building is permitted to make any interior renovations that
do not affect exterior appearance, subject just to general building code
provisions. An owner also may make exterior renovations by going through the
process of securing a “certificate of appropriateness” from the Historic
Preservation Commission. That process involves review of the renovation plans to
avoid, or at least minimize, the impact of the renovations on the historic
features of the building. The Village staff and the Historic Preservation
Commission would help the applicant make the application and review and refine
the renovation plans as appropriate.
Q.8. Once my house is designated as a landmark, how does the review process
If an owner wants to do work on a designated historic landmark, then the owner
applies for a “certificate of appropriateness.” The historic preservation
commission will review the plans for the work and make a decision whether to
approve the plans based on the standards set out in the ordinance. The review is
done jointly with the owner in an effort to allow the work to go forward without
adversely affected any historic feature of the building.
Q.9. What if the historic preservation commission decides not to approve my
Any person who does not reach agreement with the historic preservation
commission for approval of plans may appeal to the Village Council. The Village
Council will review the plans with the owner and then reach a decision whether
to approve them.
Q.10. Once my house has been designated as historic, can I undo that
designation if I don’t want it any more?
A property can be “un-designated” as historic under certain circumstances, such
as when a building has ceased to meet the criteria for designation because the
qualities that caused it to be originally designated have been lost or
destroyed, or those qualities were lost subsequent to nomination, but before
designation. The hubbub involving the renovated Soldier Field is an example of
this situation. A property also can be “un-designated” if it there was an error
in the initial designation. A property owner, however, cannot “un-designate” his
or her property simply because they no longer want to participate in the
The National Register of Historic Places
After the Village of Palos Park becomes a Certified Local Government, historic
properties within the Village will be eligible for consideration for listing on
the National Register of Historic Places. This distinction offers many benefits
to the owners of historic property and to the Village as a whole.
What is the National Register?
The National Register of Historic Places in the nation’s official list of
cultural resources worthy of preservation. The list is administered by the
National Park District. Included among the nearly 77,000 listings that make up
the National Register are properties across the country that have been nominated
by governments, organizations, and individuals because they are significant to
the nation, to a state, or to a community.
What does it mean to be a Certified Local Government?
The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency administers all state and federal
historic preservation programs, including the National Register. The Certified
Local Government Program, which was established by the National Historic
Preservation Act Amendments of 1980, gives municipalities and counties the
opportunity to participate as partners with the IHPA in state and federal
preservation activities. Municipalities and counties that have local historic
preservation programs meeting certain standards may participate after they have
been "certified." To become certified, a local government must have a historic
preservation ordinance, establish a preservation review commission, have an
active local survey program to identify historic resources, and provide for
A strong preservation ordinance includes a statement of purpose, provides for
the establishment of a historic preservation commission, outlines the process
for designating local landmarks, and includes a process for reviewing actions
affecting designated places. The Village’s ordinance includes all of those
features in a straightforward, understandable form. Village residents who serve
on the Historic Preservation Commission will assist property owners as technical
advisers and advise them about proper rehabilitation techniques.
What Palos Park will do as a Certified Local Government?
As a Certified Local Government, the Village can play an active role in the
National Register review process. All nominations for places within the Village
will be submitted to the Village’s Historic Preservation Commission and the
Mayor for their review and comment. The Commission will meet with the property
owners and help them through the process. All residents will be invited to
participate as well.
Certified Local Governments also are eligible for matching grant funds to assist
in the implementation of their local preservation programs. At least 10 percent
of the federal Historic Preservation Fund is set aside specifically for
Certified Local Governments. The funds can be used for a variety of projects,
including surveys, preservation plans, staff support, and public education. The
Village’s Historic Preservation Commission will conduct surveys of the Village
to identify potential historic structures. The Commission also will assist the
Village in considering other ways to assist residents in preserving the historic
nature of their structures.
Benefits from Historic Preservation and National Register Listing.
There are many benefits of historic preservation. The important State program
freezing assessed valuation is described below. Here are others:
- Recognition that a property is of
significance to the nation, the State, or the community.
- Creation of community pride and awareness in
the architectural and historical significance of a property.
- Eligibility for federal tax benefits.
- Qualification for federal and State
financial assistance for historic preservation.
- Consideration in the planning for federal,
federally-assisted, State, and State-assisted projects.
- Potential future local incentive programs
that assist owners of designated properties, such as low-interest loans,
grants, and easements.
Property Tax Assessment Freeze Program.
The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency offers property tax incentives to
owner-occupants of certified historic residences who rehabilitate their homes.
The assessed valuation of the historic property is frozen for eight years at the
level when renovation began and then is brought back to market level over four
years. This incentive encourages protection and upgrades of historic structures.
To qualify, the owner occupant of a residence that is registered as a historic
structure must spend at least 25 percent of the property’s market value on an
approved rehabilitation project that significantly improves the condition of the
structure and is completed in accordance with U.S. Department of the Interior
“Standards for Rehabilitation.” The Village’s Historic Preservation Commission
would assist homeowners with each step.