Certified Local Government
Every community has its distinctive heritage: a historic downtown, older neighborhoods, schools, churches, and parks. These features can be more than just fine works of architecture or special places; they can also represent the history of a community and become a legacy for all.
Historic properties give each community its distinctive look and feel. They contribute to the economy by providing tourist attractions and stabilizing and increasing property values. Historic districts protect the architecturally rich living environment for citizens and visitors.
The Certified Local Government (CLG) program is an initiative of the National Park Service and was developed to assist local municipalities in protecting their historic resources. In response to the enormous losses in the 1950s and 60s caused by burgeoning suburbs and urban decay, Congress passed the National Historic Preservation Act in 1966. Recognizing the need for greater local involvement, Congress expanded the National Historic Preservation Act in 1980 to include local government as a full partner. It established the Certified Local Government program so that municipalities and parishes could carry on historic preservation activities under a federal umbrella. Since 1980, Federal laws have been amended to provide generous federal tax benefits for the preservation of historic properties. Several states such as Louisiana, have added state tax credits and other incentives. Congress has provided funding for preservation as well. By law, each state has been required to allocate to local government programs ten percent of its annual federal appropriation for preservation activities.
In Louisiana, CLG communities are eligible to apply for available grant funds through the Division of Historic Preservation, Office of Cultural Development, the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism. Grant funds are administered on a reimbursable/matching funds basis; meaning the sub-grantee performs the work, makes the necessary expenditures, and receives reimbursement upon completion of the project.
A Certified Local Government designation is intended to encourage communities to establish historic preservation programs at the local level. The program aims to foster neighborhood pride, to survey and inventory local historic properties, and to assist property owners in preserving their community’s heritage.
Basic to the success of a community’s historic preservation program is the creation of a municipal historic district by local ordinance as required by the CLG program. Local historic districts are designated by the mayor and city council and approved by the planning and zoning commission under provisions of the state enabling legislation (La R.S. 25: 731-782).
After creating a historic district, each community must establish a Historic District Commission (HDC) to oversee its designated historic area. The HDC’s main role is to assist and advise building owners, architects, and developers on the best way to restore.