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Change could help property owners
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MONROE - Downtown area property owners could save time and maybe some money with a proposal that would make it easier to get approval for minor maintenance and repairs to their properties, according to Dr. David Riese, chairman of the City of Monroe Historical Preservation Commission.

Currently, the only time building owners in the city's historical district can get approval for construction or repair work on their properties is at monthly Historical Preservation Commission meetings.

But proposed changes in a city ordinance will allow the commission to delegate some authority to the city building inspector. Because the inspector is available almost daily during the week, he will be able to approve minor repairs or issue Certificates of Appropriateness (COA) for more extensive work that is clearly identified as acceptable to the commission.

An application for a COA currently costs $25 and is required for detail alterations, rehabilitation, construction or reconstruction or demolition of buildings in the downtown historical district.

"Some minor repairs will not need a certificate, but approval for the repair will still need to go through the building inspector," Riese said.

The building inspector will need to determine that the work does not alter the historical significance of the building and that no other building permits are required.

Riese said the building inspector will also determine, in the case of repainting, whether the paint's color is appropriate to the commission's guidelines.

Streamlining the approval process through the building inspector will save property owners time by not having to wait for approval from the commission, Riese said.

The historical district encompasses an area about one block from the courthouse Square on the north, east and west sides, and two blocks on the south side.

In cases of major work to a building in the historical district, property owners will still need COA approval from the commission. The building inspector will be able to inform applicants when such approval is needed.

Certificates can be obtained through the offices of the city building inspector or the city clerk.

A public hearing and a Common Council vote on the proposed ordinance change is set for Aug. 17 at the city hall. Also, at a meeting Tuesday, the commission approved a complaint form for possible violations in the Historic Preservation District. The forms are available at the city clerk office. Anyone may submit a complaint form.

According Carol Stamm, city clerk, the building inspector will investigate complaints and determine whether a violation exists. He will also decide how a violation can be resolved. The inspector report his findings to the commission.

Reise did not know what penalties could be applied for violations that were not remedied, but he said the commission's guidelines follow city codes and could possibly be enforced under those regulations.

To help businesses and landowners become aware of the commission and its guidelines, the commission has asked the Monroe Chamber of Commerce and Industry to include information in its newsletter.