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An Introduction to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission.

Dr. Dan L. Morrill


The Historic Landmarks Commission's  Meeting Place

This is a brief introduction to the work of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission. Click here for current roster.  It is primarily intended for the members of the Commission, but everyone is welcome to look it over.  The course consists primarily of hyperlinks which take you to pages that explain the various purposes of the Historic Landmarks Commission.

The offices of the Commission are located at 2100 Randolph Road in  in Charlotte in the historic Ratcliffe-Otterbourg House.  The Commission meets the second Monday night of each month at 6 p.m.  The public is welcome.

    The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission is an agency of Mecklenburg County and for budgetary purposes is a component of the County's Engineering and Building Standards Department.  It has 13 members.  The Board of County Commissioners appoints 6 members.  The Charlotte City Council appoints 4 members.  The Mayor of Charlotte appoints 2 members.  All are appointed for 3-year terms and may be reappointed for an additional 3-year term.  The Mecklenburg Historical Association selects 1 non-voting member of the Commission.

     The Commission was created in July 1973 by joint action of the Charlotte City Council and the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners.  Click here to see photos of 25th anniversary celebration of the Commission.  The Commission derives all of its powers from State Enabling Legislation.  Click here to read State Enabling LegislationClick here to read Legislation regarding property tax deferral for historic landmarks.  The fundamental purpose of the Commission is to recommend the designation of properties (real and personal) for historic landmark designation and to secure the preservation of same through exercising design review and through buying and selling endangered historic landmarks. 

The Historic Landmarks Commission protects properties in four fundamental ways.  First, it recommends the designation of individually significant properties as historic landmarks.  THE HLC WILL BE SENSITIVE AND RESPECTFUL OF AN OWNER’S DESIRE REGARDING RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PROCESSING AN OWNER’S PROPERTY, BUT THAT THE HLC, AFTER DELIBERATE CONSIDERATION, WILL RECOMMEND THE PROCESSING OF PROPERTIES FOR HISTORIC DESIGNATION IF IT DEEMS THAT THE PROPERTY IS WORTHY OF CONSIDERATION FOR DESIGNATION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PREVAILING GUIDELINES. Second, it buys and sells endangered historic landmarks through its $9 million dollar revolving fund and places preservation covenants in the deeds when the properties are sold.  Third, it administers design review over intended material alterations of historic landmarks.  Fourth, it educates the general public about the significance of historic landmarks.

The Commission has five committees.  They are:

Projects Committee.  The Projects Committee formulates recommendations concerning the operations of the Commission's $9 million revolving fund.  The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission has the largest, local, publicly funded historic preservation revolving fund in the United States. Click here for present projects.

Survey Committee.  The Survey Committee formulates recommendations regarding the designation or removal of designation of historic landmarks and the conducting of surveys and inventories of the local historic built environment.  Click here to see Potential Historic Landmarks Forms, which are submitted by owners to the Commission.  The documentation for prospective historic landmarks is found in a Survey and Research Report.  Click here to see an example of a Survey and Research Report.

Design Review Committee.  The Design Review Committee formulates recommendations regarding the issuance of Certificates of Appropriateness for intended physical changes to historic landmarks.  It is, therefore, the Commission's instrument of design review.  Certificates of Appropriates can be one of two types.  A Minor Works Certificate of Appropriateness is issued for incidental changes.  The Chairman of the Design Review Committee and the Consulting Director of the Commission have the authority to issue such documents if they agree on its content.  Major Certificates of Appropriateness must come before the full Historic Landmarks Commission for action.  Click here to see a Minor Works Certificate of Appropriateness Application Form.  Click here to see a Major Certificate of Appropriateness Application Form.

Finance Committee.  The Finance Committee solicits suggestions for programmatic changes to the Commission's activities, so that the Consulting Director can incorporate these within the budget request submitted to the Engineering and Building Standards Department of Mecklenburg County.

Nominating Committee.  The Nominating Committee selects a list of nominees for the elected officers of the Commission.  They are:  Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary, and Treasurer.