The Historic Homeowner -- State and Local Preservation Laws

The issue of historic preservation is governed by myriad federal, state and local laws. Generally speaking, the purpose of preservation laws is to encourage the recognition of historic resources, as well as the preservation of those resources. On the state and local levels, historic preservation controls may be enacted subject to the applicable constitutional constraints.

State Level

The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, a federal law, encourages states to expand and accelerate their own historic preservation programs and activities. Many states have enacted specific laws governing the implementation of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 on the state level.

For example, the Annotated Code of Maryland, art. 66B, section 8.01(b) (2003) provides as follows:

It is a public purpose in this State to preserve sites, structures, and districts of historic, archeological, or architectural significance and their appurtenances and environmental settings.

The laws vary widely from state to state and must be consulted individually for details.

Local Level

If delegated the authority by a state law or state constitution, local governments may also enact historic preservation controls. Here again, local enactments vary widely. On the local level, historic preservation issues are most often addressed by way of historic preservation ordinances. Generally speaking, ordinances govern private action.

For more information of interest to historic homeowners on historic preservation and related issues, contact your local historic preservation resource or:

The National Trust for Historic Preservation

1785 Massachusetts Avenue, NW

Washington, D.C. 20036

Telephone: (800) 944-6847

Copyright 2011 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.


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