Last week this Minneapolis real property law blog looked at the specific topic of aesthetic zoning. This week it will focus on another unique form of zoning that property owners in the area may encounter -- historic zoning. As its name implies, historic zoning deals with the preservation and treatment of structures that have existed for long periods of time.
Properties covered by historic zoning are designated primarily by their age. Often included on the National Register of Historic Places, historic buildings are protected by the National Historic Preservation Act. This law seeks to preserve and protect buildings that carry with them important historical significance so that they may be available for generations to come.
Inclusion in a historic zoning area can mean that an owner of a property may not make certain changes to the structure. A property owner may not be permitted to change the general look or character of the building, though in some circumstances the owner of a historic building may be permitted to make modifications to the structure that improve its accessibility and safety. In some cases, owners of historic buildings may receive tax incentives that enable them to better preserve their properties into the future.
Just as books and artwork may tell the story of a community's history, so too can the architecture and layouts of structures built in that community's past. For this reason, historic zoning exists to keep those stories alive and to maintain the physical representations of what once was in a particular area. Readers of this blog who are interested in acquiring historic buildings are encouraged to learn more about historic zoning and the limits it may place on their prospective properties. Local real property attorneys can help them work through the restrictions they may face to decide if owning historic properties is right for them.