The Sedalia City Council will soon vote on becoming a Certified Local Government after a presentation during Monday’s work session.
The Certified Local Government program, offered through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, is for local communities that have pledged to help preserve their historic properties. The program could be of large benefit to the City of Sedalia with its large number of older residences and commercial buildings, but council has never created a historic preservation ordinance.
Bill Hart, executive director of Missouri Preservation, spoke to council about the many benefits of becoming a CLG, including an economic impact from tourism and enhanced business recruitment.
“The federal government distributes funds, federal funds, to each state historic preservation office … they get 15 percent of their operating budget from the federal government, and the federal government mandates through (the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966) that 10 percent of all the funds that they get have to be redirected to the communities that they serve,” he said. “The CLG program is the vehicle the state uses to distribute those funds back to communities, so it’s a good economic benefit to have a historical preservation ordinance.”
To become a CLG, a community must do the following items:
• Adopt a local historical preservation ordinance that provides the designation of historic landmarks and districts.
• Establish a historic preservation commission with no less than five members.
• Establish and maintain a system for ongoing survey and inventory of historic and prehistoric cultural resources.
• Provide for public participation in the local preservation program by outreach and educational activities.
Community Development Director John Simmons noted that council has the power to decide how “stringent or lax that ordinance can be.”
“We’re not Arrow Rock, we can’t dictate what color the brick is going to be or the color of the paint. We don’t want to go into those,” he said. “… One thing we’ve learned in Sedalia is your Sedalia property owner doesn’t want those things dictated to them, however, we do need to maintain the fabric of what’s here.”
Once certified, the town is then eligible for additional grants and assistance from the State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPO). CLG cities become a higher priority for funding when they put in a request. In addition, some historical renovations are eligible for state historic tax credits, which gives 25 percent of qualifying costs back to the homeowner or developer completing the renovations.
Simmons said getting assistance could help encourage local homeowners to renovate older homes that can come with a large expense.
“One of the big challenges for those types of homes is the cost involved, so if you give them tax credits to reduce that to fix their own home, it’s another tool in our arsenal to turn a neighborhood around,” Simmons said.
Sedalia already has several buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Katy Depot and Hotel Bothwell, and many others, including older Victorian homes, could qualify. Hart said buildings must meet one or more of the following categories to be recognized on the register:
• Historical events and patterns — building is associated with historical events or milestones.
• People — building has some relation to a significant person.
• Design — building has historical significance for its engineering or structural work/represents a specific time period.
• Potential to yield information — this category typically pertains to archaeological sites.
Hart noted that Missouri Preservation wanted to host its annual conference in Sedalia next year, but at present is unable to do so because Sedalia is not a CLG. If Sedalia was to host the three-day conference, it would bring in about 250 attendees to the city, and at previous conferences developers toured local historical buildings available to renovate.
Meg Liston, director of Sedalia Downtown Development Inc., was in attendance Monday, and she noted both hosting the conference and the CLG program benefits are “all really significant benefits.”
Mayor Steve Galliher and council told City Administrator Gary Edwards they would like city staff to draft an ordinance to become a CLG, hopefully in time for next week’s meeting.