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City of Aberdeen Historic Preservation Commission

HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION

In 2011 the City of Aberdeen became a Certified Local Government for Historic Preservation in Washington State.

Our Mission

Our mission is to safeguard the heritage of the City of Aberdeen as represented by those buildings, districts, objects, sites and structures which reflect significant elements of City of Aberdeen History; Foster civic and neighborhood pride in the beauty and accomplishments of the past and a sense of identity based on City of Aberdeen history; Stabilize or improve the aesthetic and economic vitality and values of such site, improvements and objects; Assist, encourage and provide incentives to private owners for preservation, restoration, redevelopment and use of outstanding historic buildings, districts, objects, sites and structures; Promote and facilitate the early identification and resolution of conflicts between preservation of historic resources and alternative land uses; and Conserve valuable material and energy resources by ongoing use and maintenance of the existing built environment.

Public Meetings

The Historic Preservation Commission meets regularly on the fourth Thursday of every month at 7:00 p.m. on the third floor of Aberdeen City Hall. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend all meetings of the Historic Preservation Commission.

Commission Board Members
  • Aaron Nickell | Chair
  • Dann Sears | Vice Chair
  • Sally McCarthy
  • Jim Wynans
  • Alan Gozart
  • Roy Vataja
  • Sylvia Dickerson
Applications and Additional Information Links:
Contact Information
Lisa Scott Community Development 360-537-3238 Email

Please look at Ordinance for additional information on the creation of the Historic Preservation Commission and the Historic Preservation Commission Administrative Rules and Procedures for official duties of the commission.

Most Commonly asked questions:

(Note: Click on question to reveal answer)
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What is the Aberdeen Historic Register?

The Register is an official list of places important to the history of Aberdeen and worthy of recognition and preservation.

What qualifies a property for the Historic Register?

The Aberdeen Historic Register recognizes any building, structure, site, object or district that is significantly associated with the history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, or cultural heritage for the community; if it has integrity; is at least 50 years old, or is of lesser age and has exceptional importance; and if it falls in at least two (2) of the following categories:>

  • Associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of national, state of local history.
  • Embodies the distinctive architectural characteristics of a type, period, style, or method of design or construction, or represents a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction.
  • An outstanding work of a designer, builder, or architect who has make a substantial contribution to the art.
  • Exemplifies or reflects special elements of the city’s cultural, economic, political, aesthetic, engineering or architectural history.
  • Associated with the lives of persons significant in national, state or local history.
  • Has yielded or may be likely to yield important archaeological information related to history or prehistory.
  • A building or structure removed from its original location but which is significant primarily for architectural value, or which is the only surviving structure significantly associated with an historic person or event.
  • Is a birthplace or grave of an historical figure of outstanding importance and is the only surviving structure or site associated with that person.
  • A cemetery, which derives its primary significance from age, from distinctive design features, or from association with historic events, or cultural patterns.
  • A reconstructed building that has been executed in a historically accurate manner on the original site.
  • A creative and unique example of folk architecture and design created by persons not formally trained in the architectural design professions, and which does not fit into formal architectural or historical categories.
What is the process for designation?

In order for a property to be placed on the Register, the following steps are taken:

  • Any person, with the owner’s consent, may nominate a building, structure, site, object or district for inclusion in the Register of Historic Places. The Commission, and any member of the Commission, may solicit nominations. In its designation decision, the Commission shall consider the Aberdeen Historic Register and the city’s Comprehensive Plan.
  • In the case of individual properties, the designation shall include the UTM reference and all features-interior and exterior-and outbuildings that contribute to its designation.
  • In the case of districts, the designation shall include description of the boundaries of the district; the characteristics of the district, which justifies its designation; and a list of all properties including features, structures, sites and objects, which contribute to the designation of the district.
  • The Historic Preservation Commission shall consider the merits of the nomination according to the criteria in AMC 17.50.040(A) (refer to page 1 numbers 1-11) and the nomination review standards established in the Commission’s rules.
  • The Commission shall provide notice to the public, the owner(s) and the authors of the nomination, if different, and lessees, if any, of the subject property prior to the meeting at which the nomination will be considered. The notice shall include publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the Aberdeen area, posting of the property and written notification as required by the Open Public Meetings Act (Chpt. 42.30 RCW).
  • If the Commission finds that the nominated property is eligible for the city’s Historic Register, the Commission shall, with the owner’s consent, make a recommendation to the Mayor and City Council that the property be listed in the Historic Register. In the case of historic districts, the consent of the owners of 60% of the property, be assessed valuation, within the proposed district boundary shall be required.
  • The public, property owner(s) and the authors of the nomination, if different, and lessees, if any, shall be notified of the listing.
  • Properties listed in the city’s Historic Register shall be recorded on official zoning records with an “HR” (for Historic Register) designation. This designation shall not change or modify the underlying zone classification.
What are the benefits of Register placement?

The Local Tax Incentive Program is designated to encourage the preservation of historic resources. It provides for a “revision of the assessed value of a historic property which subtracts, for up to 10 years, such rehabilitation costs as are approved by a local review board.” The primary benefit of the law is that during the 10-year special valuation period, property taxes will not reflect substantial improvements made to the property. The rehabilitation costs that are included have to be within 24 months prior to the actual date of application.

  • Free Advice – Preservation is encouraged by providing a process for the Preservation Commission to review any proposed exterior changes to the register properties, as well as relocation or demolition.
  • Markers – Markers are provided and installed by the City for all properties on the register.
  • Educational Program – From time to time, the City will prepare public information programs on historic properties.
  • Building Code Relaxation – Some relaxation of strict building code requirements is available to properties on the Aberdeen Historic Register in the interest of preserving historic character while still meeting safety requirements. This is discussed on a case-by-case basis with the Aberdeen Building Official, Bob Waite, Phone (360) 537-3214.
  • Special Property Tax Valuation for Qualified Renovations – A state law enacted in 1985 provides a 10-year special property tax valuation for approved renovations to historic properties on the local register. Such renovations must cost at least 25% of the building’s value. Additional information is available from the City of Aberdeen’s Community Development Department.
What is not affected by placement & What is not reviewed?

Placement on the register does not affect the use of the structure, nor does it require repairs or restoration.

Listing on the city’s Historic Register is an honorary designation denoting significant association with the historic, archaeological, engineering or cultural heritage of the community. Properties are listed individually or as contributing properties to an historic district.

Prior to the commencement of any work on a Historic Register property, excluding ordinary repair and maintenance and emergency measures that are defined in AMC 17.50.050, the owner must request and receive a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Commission for the proposed work. Violation of this rule shall be grounds for the Commission to review the property for removal from the register.

Prior to whole or partial demolition of a register property, the owner must request and receive a waiver of a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Commission.

What buildings are eligible?

Residential, Industrial or Commercial buildings which:

  • Are on the Aberdeen Historic Register or are in a Historic District and
  • a. Have retained major historic features, or
    b. Have lost major historic features that are being restored in the renovation project for which the property tax valuation is being claimed.
  • Have been substantially rehabilitated. “Actual Cost of Rehabilitation” means costs incurred within twenty-four months (24) prior to the date application and directly resulting from one or more of the following:
  • a. improvements to an existing building located on or within the perimeters of the original structure; or
    b. improvements outside of but directly attached to the original structure which are necessary to make the building fully useable but shall not include rentable/habitable floor-space attributable to new construction; or
    c. architectural and engineering services attributable to design of the improvements; or
    d. all cost defined as “qualified rehabilitation expenditures” for purposes of the federal historic preservation investment tax credit.
  • The actual cost of rehabilitation shall be at least twenty-five percent (25%) of the assessed valuation of the historic property, exclusive of the assessed value attributable to the land, prior to rehabilitation.
  • Retain their historic character after rehabilitation. The “Washington State Advisory Council’s Standards for the Rehabilitation and Maintenance of Historic Properties” or “State Advisory Council’s Standards” are the rehabilitation and maintenance standards used by the Aberdeen Historic Preservation Commission as minimum requirements for determining whether or not an historic property is eligible for special valuation and whether or not the property continues to be eligible for special valuation one it has been so classified.
What are the requirements after approval?

Agreement. The building must be protected during the ten-year exemption period by an historic preservation agreement which must include the following provisions:

  • The building must be in sound structural condition and maintained according to Washington State standards.
  • The owner must obtain approval from the Historic Preservation Commission prior to making improvements.
  • The property must be visible from a public right-of-way or made available for public view one day a year.
  • If the property is sold, the new owner must sign a new agreement to continue the special valuation.

Penalties: Owners who fail to comply with their agreement or other program requirements must pay:

  • All back taxes which would have been otherwise owed;
  • Interest on back taxes; and
  • A penalty equal to 12 percent of back taxes and interest.

Appeals:

  • Any decision of the Commission acting on any application for classification as historic property, eligible for special valuation, may be appealed to Superior Court under Chapters 34.05.510 RCW and 34.05.598 RCW in addition to any other remedy of law.
  • Any decision on the disqualification of historic property eligible for special valuation, or any other dispute, may be appealed to the City of Aberdeen Council.
  • Standing to appeal the Commission’s decision shall be limited to the following person(s) pursuant to the Washington State Land Use Petition Act (36.70C.060 RCW):
  • a. The applicant and/or the owner of property to which the Commission’s decision is directed; and
    b. person(s) aggrieved or adversely affected by the Commission’s decision, or who would be aggrieved or adversely affected by a reversal or modification of the commission’s decision
What is the special valuation review procedure?
  • Before beginning work, contact the City of Aberdeen Community Development Department for more information and to arrange a preliminary review of renovation plans.
  • Individual or historic district placement on a local, State or National register is necessary before applying for the special valuation program. Application for placement on the Aberdeen Historic Register may be made by contacting the Community Development Department at the City of Aberdeen.
  • After work is complete, apply to the City of Aberdeen no later than 24 months after the beginning date of the rehabilitation work. Application forms are available from the Community Development Department at the City of Aberdeen. A final review and decision by the Aberdeen Historic Preservation Commission and the Aberdeen City Council will be arranged before December 31 of that year.
  • Applications made before October 1, will be heard by the end of the year; the new value will be calculated the next year, and the new tax goes into effect the following year. Applications received after October 1, will be processed in the following year.
Example:
By 10/01/2010 Application is made.
By 12/31/2010 Preservation Commission conducts final reviews
2011 Assessor determines new tax
2012

2013

New tax goes into effect for ten years
What are the submittal requirements for Aberdeen Historic Tax Applications?

Complete application shall consist of the following documentation:

  • A legal description of the historic property;
  • Comprehensive exterior and interior photographs of the historic property before and after rehabilitation;
  • Architectural plans or other legible drawings depicting the completed rehabilitation work;
  • A notarized affidavit attesting to the actual cost of the rehabilitation work completed prior to the date of application and the period of time during which the work was performed and documentation of both to be made available to the Commission upon request; and
  • For properties located within historic districts, in addition to the standard application documentation, a statement from the Secretary of the Interior or appropriate local official, as specified in local administrative rules or by the local government, indicating the property, is a certified historic structure is required.
What is the criteria for review by the commission?

In its review the Commission shall determine if the properties meet all the following criteria:

  • The property is a historic property;
  • The property is included within a class of historic property determined eligible for Special Valuation by the city;
  • The property has been rehabilitated at a cost which meets the definition set forth in RCW 84.26.020(2) and as identified in AMC 17.50.020I within twenty-four months prior to the date of application; and
  • The property has not been altered in any way which adversely affects those elements which qualify it as historically significant as determined by applying the Washington State Advisory Council’s Standards for the Rehabilitation and Maintenance of Historic Properties under WAC 254-20-100(1) and AMC 17.50.060(4).
Now that I am listed on the Historic Register what do I need to know about the future repairs, upgrades, and additions to my home or building?

The first step is to set up a meeting with the City of Aberdeen, Community Development Department to discuss the plans for your property and to determine whether or not a Certificate of Appropriateness (CA) is necessary for the proposed work. Whenever a building permit or other City approval is applied for on a Historic Register property, whether or not the project requires a CA, the Commission shall be notified. If the activity is not exempt from review by the Commission, City staff shall notify the applicant of the review requirements. The city shall not issue any permit for work on the property until a Certificate of Appropriateness is received from the Commission. City staff shall assist the Commission in considering building and fire code requirements. The Commission will review the proposed work for the following considerations:

  • The owner or his/her agent (architect, contractor, lessee, etc.) shall apply to the Commission for a review of proposed changes on Historic Register property or within a historic district and request a Certificate of Appropriateness or, in the case of demolition, a waiver. Each application for review or proposed changes shall be accompanied by such information as is required by the Commission in its rules for review of the proposed project.
  • The Commission shall meet with the applicant and review the proposed work according to the design review criteria established in rules. All action taken on the application shall be taken at a regular meeting of the Commission or, if the review is conducted at a special meeting, action shall be taken only after public notice as provided in AMC 17.50.040B(5).
  • The Commission shall complete its review and make its recommendations in writing within thirty (30) calendar days from its meeting with the applicant unless the commission requests an extension from the applicant.
  • The Commission’s recommendations shall be in writing and shall state the findings of fact and conclusions relied upon in reaching its decision. The Commission shall issue a Certificate of Appropriateness upon the owner’s acceptance of the Commission’s recommendations. Any conditions agreed to by the applicant shall become conditions of approval of the permits granted by the city.
  • The Commission’s recommendations and any Certificate of Appropriateness issued shall be transmitted to the building and zoning official. No permit shall be issued by the city unless a Certificate of Appropriateness has been issued.

The Historic Preservation Commission does not expect that buildings remain exactly as when they were built, nor does it expect that buildings will be restored to their original condition. Contemporary design for alterations and additions will be encourage when they do not destroy historical material and when the design is compatible with the size, scale, material and character of the property and its environment. COMPLIANCE IS VOLUNTARY UNLESS THE PROPERTY IS IN ONE OF THE CITY’S HISTORIC DISTRICTS, THEN IT IS MANDATORY

What do I do now? My property is listed on the Historic Register and it neeeds to be demolished.

A waiver of the Certificate of Appropriateness is required before a permit may be issued to allow whole or partial demolition of a Historical Register property or property in a Historic District. The Commission shall grant a waiver if it finds the property in questions meets any of the following criteria and if the proposed demolition is determined to substantially improve or correct any of the following conditions:

  • The property constitutes a hazard to the safety of the public or to the structure’s occupants.
  • The property is a deterrent to a major improvement program that will be of substantial benefit to the community and the applicant proposing the work has obtained all necessary planning and zoning approvals, financing and environmental clearances.
  • Retaining the property will cause undue financial hardship to the owner when a governmental action, an act of God, or other events beyond the owner’s control created the hardship and all feasible alternatives to eliminate the financial hardship, which may include offering the resource for sale at its fair market value or moving the resource to a vacant site within the historic district, have been attempted and exhausted by the owner.
  • Retaining the property is not in the interest of the majority of the community.

The owner or his/her agent shall apply to the Commission for a review of the proposed demolition and request a waiver. The applicant shall meet with the Commission in an attempt to find alternatives to demolition. The Commission shall issue its decision, in writing, within forth-five (45) calendar days from the initial meeting with the applicant, unless either party grants an extension. If no alternative to demolition has been agreed to during the review process, the Commission shall issue a written decision granting or denying the waiver. A copy of the Commission’s decision shall be provided to the official in charge of issuing the demolition permit.

The official in charge of issuing the demolition permit may include a condition allowing the Commission up to 45 additional calendar days to develop alternatives to demolition.

The Commission may require any owner granted a waiver to document the loss of the Historic Register property by means determined by the Commission, which shall at a minimum include recent or historic photographs of the interior and exterior, construction plans if available, and a written history of the building outlining the historic significance.

Any conditions agreed to by the applicant in the review process shall become conditions of approval of the permits granted by the city.

The Commission shall remove the property from the city’s Historic Register after the property is demolished.

What if I do not agree with the commission’s findings?

Any Commission decision regarding issuance or denial of a Certificate of Appropriateness or waiver of a Certificate of Appropriateness may be appealed to the City Council within ten days. Standing to appeal the Commission’s decision shall be limited to the following person(s), pursuant to the Washington State Land Use Petition Act (36.70C.060 RCW):

  1. The applicant and/or the owner of property to which the Commission’s decision is directed.
  2. Person(s) aggrieved or adversely affected by the Commission’s decision, or who would be aggrieved or adversely affected by a reversal or modification of the Commission’s decision.

Appeals must be in writing and clearly state the errors of fact or law alleged. Any appeal from the decision of the City Council must be filed in Superior Court and served on the city no later than twenty-one (21) calendar days following the date of the City Council’s decision or appeal is thereafter barred.
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