The city historic preservation program was established by ordinance in 1981 (see Chapter 9 of the City Code) and provides city officials and the public with services for the preservation, protection, and use of historic properties. The program is coordinated by the City Historic Preservation Officer (CHPO), who is a member of the City staff and manager of the Historic Preservation Division (HPD) in the Department of Community Development. The Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation (ACHP) provides the principal forum for public participation in the city historic preservation program and is the city’s duly designated heritage preservation commission. The ACHP has seven voting members appointed by the City Council, as well as ex-officio representatives of the city’s planning and parks commissions and the county historical society.
Historic preservation activities are carried on in six general programming areas: preservation planning, identification of heritage resources, evaluation, registration, design review, and historic property treatment. A comprehensive cultural resource management plan was adopted in 1986 and in 1994 a historic preservation element was included in the city’s comprehensive land use plan. Current program goals and policies, as well as a strategic plan for program implementation are spelled out in the Historic Preservation Element of the Cottage Grove Comprehensive Plan 2020.
Surveys are undertaken by the HPD to identify historical, architectural, archeological, and cultural resources within the city limits. Survey data are placed in a comprehensive heritage resources inventory maintained by the CHPO. These data are carefully integrated into the planning process to insure that community development decisions are based upon the best available information. Heritage resources identified by the ongoing survey are evaluated against established criteria for determining significance and preservation potential. Significant buildings and sites are listed in the City Register of Historic Sites and Landmarks, the local government equivalent of the National Register of Historic Places. Properties are placed on the City Register by City Council resolution, following nominations by the ACHP. As of December, 2000, more than 400 individual historic buildings, sites, and districts have been identified; of these, 12 are currently listed in the City Register of Historic Sites and Landmarks or the National Register of Historic Places; and an additional 40 properties have been evaluated as significant and determined eligible for registration. By ordinance, every application for a city permit in relation to a property listed in the City Register is reviewed by the ACHP and a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) is required before any work can begin. In addition, all applications for preliminary plats, conditional use permits, rezoning, and site plan approval are reviewed by the HPD for their effects on properties listed in or eligible for the City Register.
In the area of historic property treatment and conservation, the HPD proactively assists private property owners in their efforts to preserve and enhance heritage resources through project consultations, education and training. The primary vehicle for K-12 public education is the “Cottage Grove History in Buildings and Sites” classroom resource kits developed through the ACHP’s Heritage Education Project. The HPD also helps to sponsor historic site tours, exhibits, publications, and special events that focus public attention on community history and heritage resources.
The city historic preservation program was certified by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1985, pursuant to the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended. Cottage Grove continues to be an active participant in the Certified Local Government program administered by the State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service.