City of Watertown, WI
Jefferson/Dodge County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Common Council of the City of Watertown as Ch. 29 of the former City Code; amended in its entirety 7-21-1992 by Ord. No. 92-42. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Building construction — See Ch. 253.
Zoning — See Ch. 550.
It shall be a matter of public policy that the protection, enhancement, perpetuation and use of property of special historic character or interest is a public necessity and is required in the interest of the health, prosperity, safety and welfare of the people.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
ACCESSORY OBJECT
Objects constructed or erected by man which enhance the Cityscape by serving as amenities (e.g., fountains, cemetery monuments, statues and works of art, etc.).
ALTERATION
Any substantive change in the external architectural features of any accessory object, building or structure located within a historic district or on a historic site.
ARCHITECTURAL FEATURES
The general architectural arrangement of such portion of the exterior of any accessory object, building or structure which is designed to be viewed or is viewable by the public, including but not limited to the kind, color and texture of the building material and the type and design of all windows, doors, lights and other fixtures appurtenant to such exterior.
BUILDING
Any structure having a roof supported by columns or walls for the enclosure of persons, animals, equipment, machinery or materials.
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS or CERTIFICATE
A certificate issued by the Historic Preservation Commission condoning a proposed alteration or demolition of any accessory object, building or structure located within a historic district or on a historic site.
CODE
The Municipal Code of the City of Watertown.
COMMISSION
The Historic Preservation Commission.
CONTRIBUTING PROPERTY
Property within a historic district which is identified as historically significant by official designation or request of the owner.
DEMOLITION
The substantial or complete deterioration, removal or destruction of any accessory object, building or structure located in a historic district or on a historic site.
DISTRICT
See "historic district."
FENCE
A wooden, masonry, metal or plastic structure intended to enclose an open space for purposes of security, confinement or aesthetic ornamentation.
HISTORIC DISTRICT
A geographic area designated by the Common Council under the provisions of this chapter that contains accessory objects, buildings, improvements or structures which have a special historical character or significance representing one or more periods or eras in the history of the City.
HISTORIC SITE
Any property, including an accessory object, building, improvement or structure, designated by the Common Council under the provisions of this chapter as having a special historical character or significance.
IMPROVEMENT
Any place, structure, building, fixture or object which, in whole or in part, constitutes an exterior betterment, adornment or enhancement of any real property.
MAINTENANCE
Work intended to repair or replace any part of any improvement, to correct any deterioration or decay of or any damage to such improvement or any part thereof and to restore the same, as nearly as practicable, to its condition prior to the occurrence of such deterioration, decay or damage.
NEW CONSTRUCTION
The construction of a new building, improvement or structure on a vacant area of real estate, including real estate vacated as a result of a demolition, and horizontal additions or attachments to existing buildings, improvements or structures.
REHABILITATION
The process of improving property through repair or alteration which makes possible an efficient contemporary use while preserving those portions and features of the property which are historically significant.
RESTORATION
The process of bringing a property back to its original or unimpaired state.
STRUCTURE
Any construction erected by man and not intended for shelter (e.g., bridges, flagpoles, street clocks and street signs, etc.).
[Amended by Ord. No. 06-03]
A. 
Creation. In order to effect the purpose and policy of this chapter, a Historic Preservation Commission is hereby created.
B. 
Composition of Commission. The Commission shall be composed of seven members appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by a majority vote of the Common Council. The Building Inspector and City Planner shall function as additional nonvoting advisory members. Each citizen member must either reside in the City or have an established business in the City and have, to the extent practicable, a knowledge of and interest in historic preservation and revitalization.
[Amended by Ord. No. 08-28]
C. 
Commission appointments. Citizen members shall be appointed to a three-year term commencing in April of the year of appointment, except that citizen members comprising the initial Commission membership shall be appointed to staggered terms. Appointments shall be made to fill the unexpired term of any vacant position on the Commission.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II).
D. 
Commission organization. The Commission, at its first meeting and during each May thereafter, shall elect a Chairperson, Vice Chairperson and Secretary, the latter shall record the meetings of the Commission. The Building Inspector or City Planner may function in the role of Secretary. The Commission shall meet at least once every two months or as otherwise required in this chapter. All meetings shall be subject to the State's Open Meeting Law,[2] and a copy of the minutes of each meeting shall be forwarded to the City Clerk/Treasurer.
[2]
Editor's Note: See §§ 19.81 to 19.98, Wis. Stats.
E. 
Commission jurisdiction. Subject to other directives of the Common Council, the jurisdiction of the Commission shall be limited to the incorporated area of the City of Watertown.
F. 
Responsibilities and authority. In addition to adopting rules and regulations for its own operations, the Commission:
[Amended by Ord. No. 08-28]
(1) 
When requested by the general public or by officially designated agencies or agents of the City or by the Main Street Program, shall review and make recommendations regarding proposals for construction, renovation, maintenance, moving and demolition of buildings, structures, improvements, fences and accessory objects, and shall review and make recommendations regarding requests for facade and sign grants to the Main Street Board of Directors.
(2) 
Shall endeavor to effect and accomplish the protection, enhancement and perpetuation of all property and materials which represent or reflect elements of the City's cultural, archaeological, social, economic, political and architectural history.
(3) 
Shall endeavor to safeguard the City's heritage as embodied and reflected in designated historic sites and historic districts.
(4) 
Shall endeavor to foster civic pride in the history and noble accomplishments of the past.
(5) 
Shall endeavor to protect and enhance the City's attractiveness to residents, tourists and visitors.
(6) 
Shall serve as a support and stimulus to business and industry.
(7) 
Shall relate municipal programs for preserving housing and revitalizing commercial areas to the objectives of historic preservation and revitalization.
(8) 
Shall provide a means of education to the public regarding the desirability of historic preservation as an enhancement of the quality of life.
(9) 
May act as a clearinghouse to aid and assist individuals and public entities in the designation of their properties for local and/or national historic register status.
(10) 
Shall act as an advisor to the Plan Commission or when otherwise requested by other City commissions, committees or agencies in the preservation and enhancement of sites, buildings, improvements and structures having historic significance.
(11) 
Shall endeavor to maintain or cause to be maintained a comprehensive survey of sites, structures, improvements, buildings and accessory objects in the City identifying the City's historic resources.
(12) 
Shall prepare or cause to be prepared a current list and recommendations of potential historic sites and historic districts within the City and, where appropriate, forward designation nominations to the Common Council.
(13) 
When requested by the general public or by officially designated agencies or agents of the City, shall review and make recommendations regarding proposals for construction, renovation, maintenance, moving and demolition of buildings, structures, improvements, fences and accessory objects.
(14) 
Subject to the provisions of this chapter, is authorized to consider and issue or deny certificates of appropriateness.
(15) 
Shall administer, on behalf of the City, any historical materials, property, easements or other interests in real property which the City may have or may accept as gifts or grants or may otherwise acquire and for which the Common Council may designate the Commission the administrator thereof.
(16) 
Subject to any appropriation by the Common Council or funds from other sources, may employ clerical and technical assistants or consultants and incur other expenses appropriate to carrying out the work of the Commission. Such expenditures shall be subject to the City's budgetary and accounting processes and approval of the Common Council, where appropriate or required.
(17) 
Subject to review by the Common Council, may receive and solicit funds for the purpose of historic site and historic district preservation, which funds shall be placed in a special City reserve account for such purpose.
A. 
Historic sites. The Commission may nominate any property within the City of particular historic significance for designation as a historic site by the Common Council.
B. 
Historic districts. The Commission may nominate certain geographic areas within the City which are distinct in their historic significance for designation as a historic district by the Common Council.
A historic site or historic district nomination may be given for any site, building, improvement, structure or geographic area of particular historic significance for which two or more of the following concerns can be substantiated:
A. 
It has character or interest as part of the heritage of the City.
B. 
It is a site of a significant historical event.
C. 
It can be identified with a person or persons who significantly contributed to the culture and heritage of the City.
D. 
It embodies distinguishing characteristics of an architectural type or specimen.
E. 
It can be identified as the work of an architect or master builder whose individual work has influenced the development of the City.
F. 
It has a relationship to other distinctive buildings, structures, improvements or areas which are eligible for preservation according to a historic design or motif.
A. 
Form of nomination. Each historic site or historic district nomination shall be forwarded to the Common Council through the office of the City Clerk/Treasurer in the form of an introductory resolution, which shall include:
(1) 
An analysis of the historic significance;
(2) 
A statement of the specific nomination criteria met;
(3) 
A statement of preservation objectives; and
(4) 
Preservation guidelines and requirements for alteration, restoration and rehabilitation efforts unique to the nominated historic site or historic district which are in addition to those set forth in this chapter. Owner-imposed guidelines and requirements which are consistent with the purpose and policy of this chapter may also be incorporated.
B. 
Initial Council action. Within 30 days of receipt of the nomination by the City Clerk/Treasurer, the Common Council shall, by motion, deny the nomination; refer the nomination back to the Commission or to any other appropriate City department, committee or commission for further deliberation; or give preliminary approval of the nomination.
C. 
Public hearing. In the event of a preliminary approval of a nomination by the Common Council, the City Clerk/Treasurer shall schedule a public hearing on the nomination before the Common Council, published notice of which shall be given at least two weeks in advance of the hearing. In addition, the Commission shall provide the City Clerk/Treasurer with a list of names and addresses of all owners of real property located, in whole or in part, in the nominated historic site or historic district and, in the case of a nominated historic district, all owners of real property located, in whole or in part, within 200 feet of the nominated historic district. A letter shall be mailed to each individual or party listed, informing them of the nomination and date of the public hearing. A copy of the nominating resolution, including all appendages and attachments, shall be maintained in the office of the City Clerk/Treasurer for inspection by the general public.
D. 
Designation. Subsequent to the public hearing and upon the further recommendation of the Commission, the Common Council shall either affirm or deny the nomination by passage or rejection of the nominating resolution. Passage shall be by a two-thirds vote of the whole Council. In the event of passage, the nominated site, building, improvement, structure or geographic area shall be officially designated as a historic site or historic district within the City, in accordance with and subject to the terms and provisions of the nominating resolution and this chapter, said designation to be effective as of the date of passage of the nominating resolution.
E. 
Repeal of designation. Any action to repeal or amend any prior historic site or historic district designation may be commenced only if the subject property has lost the historic or architectural features for which it was originally listed and shall be subject to the public hearing and notification requirements of Subsection C above and shall require a two-thirds vote of the whole Common Council.
[Amended by Ord. No. 08-04]
A. 
Requirement. No owner, renter, occupant or person in charge of a historic site or contributing property located within a historic district shall demolish, reconstruct or alter, except for routine maintenance, all or any part of the exterior of such property, or demolish, construct or reconstruct any publicly visible exterior accessory object, building, fence, improvement or structure upon such property, or permit any such work to be performed upon such property, unless a certificate of appropriateness ("certificate") has been granted by the Commission. This requirement is in addition to any other certificate, permit, license or other form of authorization that may be required elsewhere in the Code.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Original § 29.07(2), Signs exempt, which immediately followed this subsection, was repealed by Ord. No. 10-07.
B. 
Building permit. Any application for a building permit under Chapter 253 of the Code, requesting permission to perform new construction, alterations, demolition, rehabilitation or restoration of an exterior nature on a historic site or contributing property within a historic district, shall be forwarded to the Commission by the Building Inspector, along with the Building Inspector's initial comments and recommendations regarding the application. Such building permit application shall also include an application for a certificate pursuant to the terms of this chapter. In no event shall a building permit be issued by the Building Inspector unless a required certificate has first been granted by the Commission.
C. 
Application submission. An application for a certificate shall be forwarded to the Commission through the office of the Building Inspector on application forms developed jointly by the Commission and the Building Inspector. The Commission or Building Inspector is authorized to request additional information from the applicant which is reasonable and necessary to the Commission's deliberation and review of the application.
D. 
Guidelines for application review. In deliberating and reviewing the merits of any certificate application, the Commission shall consider the following:
(1) 
In general. The economic impact on the applicant in conforming with the following guidelines and the proposed economic best use of the property should be given great weight in the Commission's deliberations but shall not be singularly determinative when considering whether a certificate should be granted or denied.
(2) 
Alteration, rehabilitation, restoration and new construction.
(a) 
The proposed work should not detrimentally change, destroy, cover or otherwise adversely affect any significant historical feature of the property upon which said work is to be performed.
(b) 
In the case of the construction or placement of any new accessory object, building, fence, improvement or structure, the exterior of such construction or placement should be in historical harmony with other neighboring accessory objects, buildings, fences, improvements or structures.
(c) 
The proposed construction, reconstruction or alteration should conform with the objectives and guidelines articulated in the nominating resolution of the affected historic site or historic district.
(d) 
Every reasonable effort should be made to provide a compatible use for a property which requires minimal alteration of the property exterior or its environment.
(e) 
The distinguishing original qualities or character of the property and its environment should be preserved when possible.
(f) 
The property should be recognized as a product of its own specific time or era of construction. Alterations that have no historical basis and which seek to create an earlier or later design and construction period appearance should be discouraged.
(g) 
Changes which may have taken place in the course of time and are evidence of the history and development of the property and its environment or changes which may have acquired design and construction significance in their own right should be recognized and weighed as a factor.
(h) 
Distinctive stylistic features or examples of skilled craftsmanship which characterize the property should be treated with sensitivity.
(i) 
Deteriorated architectural features should be repaired rather than replaced wherever possible. In the event replacement is necessary, the new material should match the material being replaced in composition, design, color, texture, size and other visual qualities. Repair or replacement of missing architectural features should be based on accurate duplications of features, substantiated by historic, physical or pictorial evidence, rather than on conjectural designs or the availability of materials.
(j) 
Surface cleaning of the property should be undertaken with the gentlest means possible. Sandblasting and other cleaning methods that may damage historic building materials should not be undertaken without the express authorization of the Commission.
(k) 
Contemporary design for alterations to existing property should not be discouraged when such alterations do not destroy significant historical, architectural or cultural material and such design is compatible with the size, scale, color, material and character of the property, neighborhood or environment.
(l) 
Wherever possible, alterations to existing property should be accomplished in such a manner that if such alteration was to be removed in the future, the essential form and integrity of the property would be unimpaired.
(m) 
Contemporary design used in any new construction in a historic district should correspond in height, width, proportion, relationship to street, roof forms, composition, proportion of openings, materials and color to existing buildings and improvements in the historic district.
(3) 
Demolition.
(a) 
Whether the property is of such historic significance that its demolition would be detrimental to the public interest and contrary to the general welfare of the people of the City, state or nation.
(b) 
Whether demolition of the property would be contrary to the purpose and policy of this chapter and to the historic preservation objectives and guidelines as specifically articulated in the nominating resolution for the affected historic site or historic district.
(c) 
Whether the property is of such old, unusual or uncommon design, texture or material that it could not be reproduced or be reproduced only with great difficulty or expense.
(d) 
Whether retention of the property would promote the general welfare of the people of the City and state by encouraging study of American history, architecture and design, or by developing an understanding of American culture and heritage.
(e) 
Whether the property is in such a deteriorated condition that it is not structurally or economically feasible to preserve or restore. However, any hardship or difficulty claimed by the applicant which is self-created or is the result of any failure to maintain the property in good repair should not in and of itself qualify as a basis for granting a certificate.
(f) 
In the event that new construction or a change in use is proposed, the guidelines set forth in Subsection D(2) above shall also be considered.
E. 
Application process.
(1) 
Upon submission of a certificate application, the Commission may meet for the purpose of application introduction and applicant presentation. The applicant shall be notified by mail of the time and date of the meeting and should be prepared to appear, either in person or by representative, along with all supporting documentation, plans, drawings, sketches and the like, for presentation to the Commission. At such meeting, the Commission may grant or deny the certificate; reasonably request additional information from the applicant; and/or lay over the matter to a subsequent meeting.
(2) 
Notwithstanding Subsection E(1) above, within 30 days of the date of application submission the Commission shall either grant or deny the certificate. In the event that application deliberation and review require additional time, and subject to the concurrence of the applicant, this thirty-day period may be extended by a single thirty-day period.
(3) 
In the event of an application involving demolition, the Commission shall have the authority to order the suspension of the proposed demolition for a period not to exceed 90 days, during which good faith negotiations shall be conducted between the Commission and applicant regarding possible location, rehabilitation and restoration alternatives to the demolition. During said suspension period, the applicant shall take whatever steps are necessary to prevent further deterioration of the property.
(4) 
If the Commission fails to grant or deny the certificate after the longer of the thirty-day period (as extended) or suspension period (if ordered), the certificate shall be deemed to have been granted.
(5) 
A certificate granted by the Commission shall be issued to the applicant by the Building Inspector within three working days of its granting.
(6) 
Any certificate denial or suspension order by the Commission shall be evidenced by a written notice to the applicant, setting forth in detail the Commission's rationale for the denial or suspension and, in the case of a denial, what alternatives exist or what steps, if any, could be taken which could result in the granting of the certificate. The effective date of any such denial or suspension order shall be the earlier of the date of personal delivery or three days after the date of deposit in the United States Mail of the written notice.
(7) 
Any individual or person whose application has been denied or who is subject to a suspension order may seek administrative appeal under § 10-9 of this Code. For purposes of this appeal, proceedings before the Historic Preservation Commission shall not constitute a hearing substantially in compliance with § 10-10, nor must the appellant follow the administrative review procedure of §§ 10-7 and 10-8 prior to initiating administrative appeal.
(8) 
The Common Council shall grant legislative review if a written request by the appellant is concurred in by 1/3 of the Common Council membership. The Council may, upon granting review, overturn, modify or uphold the decision of the administrative appeal board.
Interior alterations of a building or improvement located on a historic site or within a historic district shall not require a certificate of appropriateness. However, in the interest of preserving and maintaining an inventory of historically or architecturally significant interior building materials and appointments, the Commission shall, whenever possible, endeavor to contact the owner or persons performing such work for the purpose of encouraging the restoration or rehabilitation of any such material or appointment or its careful removal to an ascertainable location. The Building Inspector shall immediately notify the Commission of any request for a building permit for interior alterations where such building materials or appointments may be affected.
The Building Inspector or his appointed representative shall periodically inspect any undertaking authorized by the Commission and set forth in the granting and issuance of a certificate. If a violation of the conditions of any certificate or any unauthorized change of any accessory object, building, improvement, site or structure subject to and protected by the provisions of this chapter is discovered, the Building Inspector is authorized to cite the offending party under authority of this chapter and, in addition, may issue a stop order in accordance with the procedures set forth in Chapter 253 of this Code where a continuing violation would result in irreparable harm to the historic, architectural or cultural preservation of the property subject to the violation.
A violation of this chapter shall constitute a violation of Chapter 253 of the Code and shall be subject to the penalties set forth in that chapter.
If any section, clause or provision of this chapter is in conflict with any section, clause or provision of Chapter 550, Zoning, of this Code, then Chapter 550 shall control.