ARTICLE III. PRESERVATION OF HISTORIC BUILDINGS

74-51 Purpose and intent.

The intent and purpose of the city historic districts is to protect portions of the city which have a distinctive character that recalls the rich historical heritage of the city, and that is a source of inspiration to people by awakening interest in the city’s historic past. Furthermore, these city historic districts are created to promote the economic and general welfare of the city’s residents by fostering civic beauty through the encouragement of appropriate historic settings and conservation of desirable historical character, thereby promoting educational, recreational and cultural activities within our city which will advance the principles and goals of community development as embodied in the comprehensive plan of the city. To accomplish the aforesaid objectives, the city historic districts ordinance, pursuant to the authority conferred by Act No. 169 of the Public Acts of Michigan of 1970 (MCL 399.201 et seq., MSA 5.3407(1) et seq.) provides for establishment of historical districts; for the acquisition of land and structures for historic purposes; for the acquisition of land and structures for historic purposes; for preservation of historic sites and structures; for the creation of historic district commissions; and for the maintenance of publicly owned historic sites, structures and markers by the city.

(Code 1985, § 7-35)

74-52 Definitions.

The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this article, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:

Alteration means any construction or remodeling of any existing structure which results in any change to the exterior structural parts, location of exterior openings, or otherwise affects a change in the exterior appearance, including any change which increases the height or floor area of such structure or otherwise adds to it, such as a porch or attached garage.

Certificate of approval means the written approval by the historic district commission of plans for the construction, alteration, repair, moving or demolition of a structure within a historic district.

Commission means the historic district commission as established by section 74-54 of this article.

Construction means the assemblage of materials in any definite pattern for the purpose of erecting or modifying a structure and/or any significant alteration of the existing ground level.

Demolition means the destruction, all or in part, of a structure.

Elevation means a scale drawing of all exterior sides of a structure which is to be constructed, altered or repaired.

Historic district means a geographically defined area created by the city for the purpose of historical preservation, as described in section 74-53 of this article. The city may establish more than one such historic district. Historic structures within the district are related by historical, architectural or archaeological significance. For the purposes of clarification, a historic district may also consist of a single structure unrelated to its surroundings in historical, architectural or archaeological significance.

Historic site means anything constructed or erected which requires permanent location on the ground or attachment to something having such location, including but not limited to buildings, towers, statues, walls, markers and hitching posts, so designated by the historic district commission.

Historical preservation means the protection, rehabilitation, restoration or reconstruction of districts, archaeological and other sites, buildings, structures and objects.

Ordinary maintenance and repair means the mending or restoration of any exterior part or surface of an existing structure to a good or sound condition after weathering, deterioration, decay or damage, by the use of materials of the same composition, texture and general dimensions as the part or surface being restored. Examples include painting, weatherstripping, replacing gutters, replacing wood clapboard siding with essentially similar wood siding, etc.

Repair means the mending or restoration of any exterior part or surface of an existing structure to a good or sound condition after deterioration, decay or other damage by the use of materials which are not of the same composition, texture and general dimensions as the part or surface being restored.

(Code 1985, § 7-36)

Cross reference—Definitions generally, § 1-2.

74-53 Designation.

(a)    The historic district commission shall designate certain properties located within historic districts as historic sites after due consideration of such property’s:

(1)    Quality of significance in American, state and/or city history, architecture, archaeology, engineering and culture;

(2)    Integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association;

(3)    Relationship to events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history;

(4)    Association with the lives of persons significant in our past;

(5)    Distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represent the work of a master, or that possess high artistic values, or that represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction; and

(6)    Potential for restoration.

(b)    The following described properties are hereby designated as historic districts:

(1)    Franklin Boulevard Historic District: Lots 12 through 19 and lots 22 through 61 of Assessor’s Plat No. 41; lots 32 through 42, the north 117.92 feet of lot 43, lot 44 exc. the south 48 feet, and lots 57 through 64 of Assessor’s Plat No. 112; lots 25 through 31 and lots 37 through 40 of Assessor’s Plat No. 115; lots 1 through 20 of Assessor’s Plat No. 129; lots 1 through 5, the north 125 feet of lot 6, lot 7 exc. the south 55 feet, lot 8 exc. the east 10 feet of the south 55 feet, lots 9 and 10 exc. the south 45 feet, and lots 11 through 48 of Forest Lawn Addition; and lots 1 through 8 of Johnson Addition; City of Pontiac, Oakland County, Michigan, as recorded in the Oakland County Records.

(2)    Fairgrove Avenue Historic District: Oakland County Agricultural Society’s Addition, lots 3 through 11, north 95 feet of lot 12, lots 13 through 31, east 45 feet of lot 32, the easterly 47.4 feet of lot 99 and lots 100 through 102; Assessor’s Plat No. 26, lot 9; Assessor’s Plat No. 27, lot 12.

(3)    Modern Housing Corporation Addition Historic District: Modern Housing Corporation Addition, lots 130 through 414, 613, 618 through 622, 624 through 634, and 638 through 645.

(4)    Seminole Hills Historic District: Seminole Hills Subdivision, lots 21 through 35, and 37 through 556; Crofoot’s Western Addition, block 4, lots 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 10, 11, 14, 15 and 18; and Roberts Subdivision, lots 1 through 36.

(5)    Pontiac Commercial Historic District: Original plat, lots 1 through 5, 17 through 22 excluding the north 10.5 feet of lot 22, the north 30 feet of lot 28, lots 36 through 69, the north 30 feet of lot 77, lots 79 through 95, 118, 119 and 131 through 141; Assessor’s Plat No. 28, lots 14, 21, and 22; Assessor’s Plat No. 46, lots 1, 2, 3, 48, 49 and 50, excluding the southerly 12 feet of said lots 48 and 49; Assessor’s Plat No. 112, lots 11 through 19; Assessor’s Plat No. 113, lots 1 through 8 and 26 through 30; Assessor’s Plat No. 119, lots 79 and 80; and Huron Addition, lots 1 through 5.

(6)    Horatio N. Howard House Historic District: Stockwell and Tregent’s Addition, block 1, east 170 feet of lot 13, exc. south 44 feet.

(7)    Wisner House Historic District: Assessor’s Plat No. 4, lot 7 exc. beginning at the northeast corner of lot 249, Assessor’s Plat No. 140, City of Pontiac, Michigan, thence south 45 degrees 11 minutes 10 seconds east 181.55 feet; thence north 43 degrees 56 minutes 40 seconds east along the northerly line of lot 246, Assessor’s Plat No. 140, 20 feet; thence north 45 degrees 11 minutes 10 seconds west 91.7 feet; thence north 28 degrees 39 minutes 10 seconds west 52.5 feet; thence north 35 degrees 21 minutes 10 seconds west 41 feet to the point of curve to the left, having a radius of 23.23 feet a central angle of 100 degrees 30 minutes 50 seconds, thence around the arc of curve a distance of 40.75 feet to the point of tangency of such curve; thence south 44 degrees 08 minutes west 47.95 feet; thence north 88 degrees 20 minutes east along the northerly line of lot 249, Assessor’s Plat No. 140, 40.05 feet to the point of beginning, also exc. a strip of land lying northeasterly of a line 60 feet southwesterly of and parallel to the centerline of Oakland Avenue as now established for Oakland Avenue widening.

(8)    St. Vincent DePaul Church Complex Historic District: Assessor’s Plat No. 134, lot 50 and the north 220 feet of lot 51.

(9)    First United Methodist Church Historic District: Assessor’s Plat No. 130, lots 16, 17, 18 and also all that part of vacated Judson Street lying adjacent.

(10)    Central School Historic District: Assessor’s Plat No. 142, lot 3, exc. that part lying westerly of the easterly line of Perimeter Road as now laid out.

(11)    Cook Nelson, American Legion Post No. 20 Historic District: Assessor’s Plat No. 136, lots 3 through 9.

(12)    Oakhill Cemetery Historic District: Assessor’s Plat No. 19, lots 1 and 2, exc. that part lying south of the north line of permanent right-of-way of Pontiac Clinton Drain No. 2; Assessor’s Plat No. 20, lot 15; and Assessor’s Plat No. 145, lots 2, 3, and 4.

(13)    Eastern Michigan Asylum Historic District: Those parts of the south half of Section 19 and the north half of Section 30, Township 3 North, Range 10 East, City of Pontiac, Oakland County, Michigan, more particularly described as follows:

Commencing at the southwest corner of said Section 19; thence south 89 degrees 15 minutes 33 seconds east 500.00 feet to the point of beginning; thence south 0 degrees 13 minutes 24 seconds east, 1200.00 feet; thence south 89 degrees 15 minutes 33 seconds east 1350.00 feet; thence south 0 degrees 13 minutes 24 seconds east 500.00 feet; thence south 89 degrees 15 minutes 33 seconds east 1600.00 feet; thence north 23 degrees 13 minutes 36 seconds east 924.20 feet; thence north 43 degrees 47 minutes 15 seconds west 2100.00 feet; thence north 47 degrees 53 minutes 39 seconds east 1000.00 feet to a point on the southwesterly right-of-way line of the Grand Trunk Western Railroad, said point lying northwesterly along said railroad right-of-way line 3700.00 feet from the point of intersection of said railroad right-of-way line with northerly right-of-way line of Johnson Avenue (99 feet wide); thence north 43 degrees 47 minutes 15 seconds west 1022.11 feet along said railroad right-of-way line; along a curve to the right, radius equal to 973.14 feet, arc distance 211.98 feet, long chord bearing south 21 degrees 46 minutes 23 seconds east 210.77 feet; thence north 79 degrees 46 minutes 59 seconds west 1531.00 feet; thence south 0 degrees 00 minutes 14 seconds east 754.13 feet; thence north 86 degrees 45 minutes 45 seconds west 564.40 feet; thence south 0 degrees 08 minutes 40 seconds east 595.43 feet; thence south 19 degrees 40 minutes 35 seconds 148.12 feet; thence south 53 degrees 48 minutes 53 seconds east 235.87 feet; thence south 0 degrees 19 minutes 40 seconds east 515.69 feet; thence north 89 degrees 15 minutes 33 seconds west 55.42 feet to the point of beginning.

(Code 1985, § 7-37)

74-54 Creation and composition of Historic District Commission; removal from office.

A Commission is hereby established to be composed of seven members, who reside in the City and are appointed by the Mayor. Members shall be appointed for three-year terms, except the initial appointment of some of the members shall be for less than three years to the end that the initial appointments shall be staggered so that subsequent appointments shall not all recur at the same time. Members shall be eligible for reappointment by the Mayor. In the event of a vacancy on the Commission, interim appointments may be made by the appointing authority to complete the unexpired term of such position. A majority of the members shall have a clearly demonstrated interest in or knowledge of historic preservation. The Mayor shall appoint at least two members from a list of citizens submitted by a duly organized and existing preservation society or societies, and one architect, duly registered in this state, if an architect resides or works or has offices in the City and is available for appointment. The Commission shall have no less than three members who are property owners within the historic districts. Any member who has three unexcused absences during the course of one year will be considered to have resigned from the Commission and the Mayor may make an interim appointment to complete the unexpired term of such position. A member may be removed from the Commission by the Mayor for misfeasance, malfeasance, or nonfeasance in office after having the opportunity to be heard before the City Council, and upon an affirmative vote of majority of the seated Council.

(Code 1985, § 7-38: Ord. No. 2283, § 1, 5-6-13)

Cross reference—Historical commission, § 74-26 et seq.

74-55 Permits for construction, repair, moving, demolition affecting exterior appearance of historic sites, structures or objects located within historic districts.

(a)    Before any construction, alteration, repair, moving or demolition affecting the exterior appearance of a historic site or any proposed or existing structure located within a historic district is made and/or which by the terms of the ordinance then in effect requires the taking out of a permit within such a district, the person proposing to make such construction or changes shall file an application with appropriate elevations for permission with the planning and community renewal division. The application shall be referred, together with plans and/or elevations pertaining thereto, to the historic district commission, and the commission shall review such plans, elevations and applications and no permit shall be granted until the commission has approved such plans and/or elevations as provided in this article. Further, if the proposed development requires site plan approval by the city planning commission, the historic district commission shall provide a report of its action to the city’s planning and community renewal division for inclusion within the staff report to the city planning commission.

(b)    “The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and Revised Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings (1983)” provides the basic guidelines for evaluation of applications for certificates of approval. In reviewing plans, the historic district commission shall give consideration to the foregoing and:

(1)    The historical or architectural value and significance of the structure or object and its relationship to the historical value of the surrounding area.

(2)    The relationship of the exterior architectural features of such structure or object to the rest of the structure or object and to the surrounding area.

(3)    The general compatibility of exterior design, setbacks, arrangement, color, texture, and materials proposed to be used.

(4)    Any other factor, including aesthetic, which it deems pertinent.

(5)    Whether the applicant has avoided, where possible, the removal or alteration of any historic building materials or distinctive architectural features or any other changes which would destroy the original character of the affected structures.

(6)    Changes which have taken place over the course of time in the development of a structure’s present appearance which have thereby acquired a significance in their own right shall be recognized and respected.

(7)    Whether the applicant, where reasonably possible, will repair rather than replace deteriorated architectural features and where replacement is necessary, whether such replacement is as similar in composition and texture as is possible and is based on a reasonably accurate duplication of the architectural feature.

(8)    The surface cleaning of structures shall be undertaken with the gentlest means possible; when sandblasting and other cleaning methods will damage the historic building materials such treatment shall not be approved.

(9)    Whether every reasonable effort has been made to protect and preserve any archaeological resources which may be affected by the proposed construction, alteration, repair, moving or demolition.

(10)    Contemporary designs, materials or methods for construction, alterations or repair shall not be discouraged where they are compatible with the size, scale, color, material and character of the affected structure and adjacent structures.

(11)    Whether, where reasonably possible, the proposed alteration will be done in such a manner as to not impair the essential form and integrity of the structure in the event that such alterations are removed in the future.

(c)    The historic district commission is empowered to require approval only as to those proposed alterations or repairs which are in open view from any public street, and it shall not pass on any changes to interior arrangement of structure, nor shall it disapprove applications for certificates of approval, except pursuant to the standards set forth in the previous subsection.

(d)    In the case of an application for the alteration, repair, moving or demolition of a structure which the historic district commission deems so valuable that the loss thereof will adversely affect the public interest, the commission shall endeavor to work out with the owner an economically feasible plan for the preservation of the structure.

(e)    The provisions of subsections (b)(1) through (b)(11) of this section notwithstanding, an application for the alteration, repair, moving or demolition of a structure shall be approved by the historic district commission if it determines that any of the following conditions prevail and also determines that the proposed changes will materially improve such condition or conditions:

(1)    The structure constitutes a hazard to the safety of the public or its occupants;

(2)    The structure is a deterrent to a major improvement program which will be of substantial benefit to the city;

(3)    Retention of the structure would cause undue financial hardship to the owner; or

(4)    Retention of the structure would not be in the interests of the citizens of the city.

(Code 1985, § 7-39)

74-56 Certificate of approval or rejection of plans; filing for review; effect of rejection; inspections; failure to act on application.

(a)    The historic district commission shall approve or disapprove the plans submitted under this article and, if approved, shall issue a certificate of approval which is to be signed by the chairman and the relevant plans, if any, shall be stamped by the commission signifying its approval thereof, and such certificate and plans shall be transmitted to the building and safety engineering division and/or the planning commission if applicable.

(b)    No work shall begin until the certificate of approval is filed, but in the case of rejection, the certificate is binding on the building and safety engineering division or other duly delegated authority and no permit shall be issued in such case. If the historic district commission disapproves the application, it shall state its reasons for doing so and shall transmit a record of such action, together with the reasons therefor, in writing to the building and safety engineering division and the applicant. The commission may advise the applicant in a transmittal of the changes in the proposed plans which are necessary to obtain commission approval. The applicant may make modifications to any plans disapproved and shall have the right to resubmit his application thereafter for commission approval.

(c)    After the certificate of approval has been issued and the building permit, if any, granted to the applicant, the designated building inspector shall from time to time inspect the construction, alteration, repair, moving or demolition approved by such certificate and shall take action as is necessary to force compliance with the plans as approved.

(d)    The failure of the historic district commission to act within 30 days after the date a properly completed application has been filed with the planning and community renewal division, unless an extension is agreed upon mutually by the applicant and the commission, shall be deemed to constitute approval.

(Code 1985, § 7-40)

74-57 Ordinary maintenance and repair; construction, repair, moving or demolition under existing permit.

Nothing in this article shall be construed to prevent ordinary maintenance or repair of any historic site or any structure within the historic district; nor to prevent construction, alteration, repair, moving or demolition of any structure under a permit issued by the building and safety engineering division prior to the passage of this article.

(Code 1985, § 7-41)

74-58 Commission rules and procedures.

(a)    At least four (4) members of the historic district commission shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of its business. The passage of any resolution, motion or other action by the commission shall be by a majority vote.

(b)    All meetings of the historic district commission shall be open to the public and any person or representative of his choice shall be entitled to appear and be heard on any matter before the commission before it reaches its decision. The commission shall keep a record, which shall be open to the public view, of its resolutions, proceedings and actions.

(c)    The historic district commission shall have the power to call in experts to aid in its deliberations within the limits of its budget.

(d)    The historic district commission shall adopt rules for the transaction of its business. Furthermore, such rules shall be available for review by the public and/or parties appearing before the historic district commission.

(e)    The historic district commission shall file a record of its resolutions and actions with the planning and community renewal division.

(Code 1985, § 7-42)

74-59 Appeals.

Any persons jointly or severally aggrieved by a decision of the historic district commission shall have the same rights of appeal concerning the decision as are granted to an applicant aggrieved by a decision of a zoning board of appeals.

(Code 1985, § 7-43)

74-60 Acceptance of grants or gifts; agents for acceptance and administration.

The city council may accept grants from the state or federal governments for historical restoration purposes. It may make the historic district commission its duly appointed agent to accept and administer grants and gifts for historical preservation purposes.

(Code 1985, § 7-44)

74-61 Acquisition of historic sites by council; funds, recommendation of commission; maintenance of sites.

If all efforts by the historic district commission to preserve a historic site fail, or if it is determined that public ownership is most suitable, the city council, if deemed to be in the public interest, may acquire such property using public funds, gifts for historical purposes, grants from the state or federal governments for acquisitions of historic properties, or proceeds from revenue bonds issued for historical preservation purposes. Such acquisitions shall be based on the recommendation of the historic district commission. The historic district commission has the responsibility for the maintenance of publicly owned historic sites using its own funds, if not specifically earmarked for other purposes, or those public funds committed for this use by the council.

(Code 1985, § 7-45)

74-62 Coordination between county and city commission.

Coordination between the county historic commission and the city historic commission shall be maintained. The overall historical preservation plan of the city shall be submitted to the county historic commission for review, and county plans submitted to the city’s historic district commission. Day-to-day activities of legal commissions concerning alteration and restoration decisions need not be submitted to the county but only those plans which have other than strictly local significance.

(Code 1985, § 7-46)