Landmark Program

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Palmer Plaque
Each landmarked property receives a plaque. (Click picture to enlarge)


To Plaque or Not to Plaque, that is the question.
Here are the answers.

Landmark Program
The landmark program is a program through the City of Crystal Lake.  The City's landmark program bestows legal protection to a property for the purpose of preserving its public character and history.  A landmarked property is recognized as a public asset that enriches the community of Crystal Lake by virtue of its architectural and/or the people and events associated with it.  The commission, acting on behalf of the community, works to ensure the integrity of a landmarked property is not destroyed by demolition, inappropriate changes or neglect.  Landmark designation does not attempt to stop change but rather give it direction.  That direction is based on the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation.  The standards establish a hierarchy of repair over replacement and authenticity over substitution.  Landmark designation only protects the integrity of the public experience and does not apply to private spaces.  In the case of a home, the facade is protected, but not the interior. 

As a plaqued property changes owners over time, the preservation commission will be active in its continuing care.  In other words, the commission becomes a steward of the property working in partnership with the owners to ensure that it remains in good conditions and true to its history.  Landmark designation from the preservation commission is a form of recognition for historical significance and/or design excellence.  Landmarked properties receive a commemorative plaque, purchased by the commission, for public display.  Download the application here.

Property Renovations, Alterations and Additions
The preservation commission has created a guide in understanding the appropriate changes that can be made to plaqued properties.  The guide shows you that the landmark status does not limit your enjoyment and use of the property.  Guidelines for the Renovation, Restoration and Preservation of Landmarked Properties .  Any changes to a plaqued property require the submittal and approval by the commission of a Certificate of Appropriateness.  The Certificate of Appropriateness submittal requires details of the proposed work and any cost estimates.  These cost estimates are also used to apply for the grant funding.

Matching Grant
The preservation commission financially supports local history by dedicating the majority of money earned from our fund raising to financial assistance for landmarked properties.  The grant is a 50/50 matching grant up to $500 biannually for qualifying projects.  The grant application requires the approval of the certificate of appropriateness, all cost estimates and details about the proposed work including photographs.  The commission will make a motion to approve or deny the request.  Actual grant funds are not approved and disbursed until the completion of the work and all supporting documentation (final payment receipt and photographs) have been submitted to the commission. 

How do you proceed through the Landmark program?
If you are the owner of a Crystal Lake property that is over fifty years old, and are interested in learning more about the landmarking process, please join us at our monthly meeting at the Municipal Complex on the first Thursday of the month, or email us via .  The commission can supply you with the necessary forms to document the property along with an example of a previously completed submission and, as always, plenty of moral support.  One of the commission members who also resides in a landmark plaqued property wrote a step-by-step guide to getting through the landmark process, " A Practical Guide to Historic Landmark Designation for the City of Crystal Lake ." 

What about National Register Designation?
Landmark designation from the Crystal Lake Historic Preservation Commission is actually a steppingstone toward designation on the National Register of Historic Places.  As a part of the National Register application review process, the Crystal Lake Commission receives a copy for comment.

It is important to understand that the National Register is only an honorary recognition that does not protect property from demolition, inappropriate change or neglect.  It does make a property eligible for federal tax benefits and preservation funding when it is available.  Besides financial incentives and recognition, the impact on federal or federally assisted projects is given, "consideration," in planning if it will affect the historic property in a negative way.  This is referred to as "Section 106 review."  It is administered by an independent federal agency called the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) in consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer.  The ACHP is also responsible for advising the President and Congress on historic preservation.

The National Register is administered by the National Park Service which is a division of the Department of the Interior.  Nominations are reviewed by the Illinois Historic Sites Advisory Council (IHSAC) which is composed of professionals in the fields of American history, architectural history, architecture, prehistoric and historic archeology, and other related disciplines.  The State Historic Preservation Officer reviews the recommendation of the IHSAC and makes a recommendation to the Keeper of the National Register in Washington, D.C.

What financial incentives are available to landmarked properties?
The Crystal Lake Commission offers the matching grant program.  Properties landmarked by the Crystal Lake Historic Preservation Commission are eligible for an annual $500 matching grant for approved restoration projects.

Property Tax Assessment Freeze:  State property taxes are frozen for eight years at their value prior to the rehabilitation of an owner occupied, landmarked property.  After eight years there is a four year period of adjustment back to the regular assessed rate.  The value of the rehabilitation must be at least 25% of the assessed value prior to work.  The program is administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.

20% Tax Credit:  National Register properties that are income-producing and are not the owners' exclusive residences are eligible for a federal tax credit equal to 20% of the value of the renovation work and fees.  the value of additions, site features, and furnishings do not apply.  The tax credit is good for twenty years or until the 20% value has been recouped.  The program is administered jointly by the National Park Service and the Internal Revenue Service.

What is a preservation easement?
A preservation easement is an alternative method of legally protecting a historic site from demolition, inappropriate changes, or neglect.  A historic preservation easement is a legal agreement between the owner of a certified historic property and a qualified nonprofit charitable organization.  A certified historic property is defined as being on the National Register of Historic Places, or is part of a historic district certified by the U.S. Department of the Interior.  There are three general types of easement offered:

1.  Facade preservation
2.  Interior space preservation
3.  Development rights preservation

The preservation easement donor continues to own, manage , and maintain the property within the limits of the preservation easement agreement while bearing all costs and liabilities related to ownership.  The preservation easement becomes part of a property's chain of title and permanently remains with the historic property binding both the present and future owners.  

A preservation easement has a monetary value assessed by a qualified real estate appraiser.  Generally, the value may lead to a reduction in estate, income, and property taxes.

There are several national nonprofits that will accept the gift of a preservation easement including the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Architectural Trust.  Within the State of Illinois, the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois also has an easement program.

What is a Certified Local Government?
Certified Local Governments (CLG's) have a preservation ordinance, a commission to enforce it, and are in compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act and state procedures.  The Crystal Lake Historic Preservation Commission is a CLG.  As such, the commission is eligible for federal money allocated to the State of Illinois as the annual Historic Preservation Fund.  The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency earmarks 10% of the annual fund for a 60/40 matching grant program with the local contribution being 40%.  Types of projects eligible for the grant include public education, surveys, planning, development, and National Register applications.  If you would like to assist the commission in any of these activities, please join us at our monthly meeting.

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