OVERVIEW OF THE WAKE COUNTY LANDMARKS PROGRAM
The procedure for designating historic landmarks is established in the Wake County Historic Preservation Ordinance and the North Carolina General Statutes. Through this program the Wake County Historic Preservation Commission (WCHPC) and Capital Area Preservation (CAP), who provides staff for the WCHPC, are actively involved in initiating, reviewing and recommending properties to be designated as local historic landmarks. Starting in July 2003, the jurisdiction of the WCHPC became all of the communities of Wake County, excluding properties falling within the corporate limits of Raleigh and Wake Forest. The communities of Apex, Cary, Fuquay-Varina, Knightdale, Holly Springs, Zebulon, Wendell, Rolesville, Morrisville and Garner participate in the landmarks program through an interlocal agreement with Wake County.
Currently twenty-four properties in Wake County are designated as Wake County landmarks. Landmark designation recognizes properties that are important to the heritage and character of the community. In addition, designation serves as an incentive for private property owners to rehabilitate and maintain historic properties. Some examples include the Page-Walker Hotel in Cary, designated by the Cary Town Board in 1994, the Thompson-Ultley-Fletcher-Tunstall House in Apex, designated by the Apex Board of Commissioners in 2003, and Bennett-Bunn Plantation, designated by the Wake County Board of Commissioners in 1996.
The primary benefits of landmark designation include:
Honor - Landmark designation is an honor that is bestowed on only a few of the county's significant historic properties each year.
Reduced Property Taxes - An owner of a privately owned landmark is eligible for an annual 50% property tax deferral beginning in the year following designation. For example, a property that is designated as a historic landmark in 2004 is eligible for the tax deferral in 2005. (The deadlines are established by the N.C. General Statutes.)
Review and Approval of Exterior Changes – Property owners are required to obtain a “Certificate of Appropriateness” from the WCHPC before making changes to the exterior of the property. A Certificate of Appropriateness is a type of permit that certifies that changes to a historic landmark are appropriate to the historic character of the property. The Wake County Design Guidelines aid the landmark owner in planning desired exterior changes in such a way that a landmark's historic value is preserved. Capital Area Preservation (CAP) provides technical preservation assistance to owners of landmarks upon request. This regulatory review ensures a public benefit through the assured future protection of a landmark’s place in the landscape, encouraging stability and high property values and helping to build communities with a strong sense of identity.
THE DESIGNATION PROCESS
Eligibility - Wake County’s survey of historic architecture is used as a guide to evaluate a property’s eligibility for landmark designation. A landmark must possess historical, architectural, cultural, or archaeological significance, and must currently express that significance through elements of its physical integrity. It is suggested that the applicant discuss the property’s eligibility with CAP staff before proceeding with designation. In most cases, CAP staff will request a site visit in order to better evaluate landmark eligibility.
Landmark Application – The first step towards designating a landmark is for the applicant to submit a completed landmark application to CAP. The applicant can be the property owner or a consultant designated by the property owner. The application will include current data about the property and site, a complete description of the property proposed for designation, pertinent historical information and photographs. CAP staff is available to assist in the preparation of a complete application. (The "Landmark Designation Application" specifies all the information required for completing an application.) Because the tax deferral begins in the year after designation, CAP suggests that property owners who wish to meet the December 31 deadline submit a completed designation application form and report no later than August.
Wake County Historic Preservation Commission Review – Once CAP staff determines that the report is complete; it is submitted to the WCHPC’s Designation Committee. A copy will also be sent to the State Historic Preservation Office, which will then have thirty (30) days to comment on the report. Following these reviews, the WCHPC will hold a public hearing on the landmark request during a regular meeting. The applicant will be notified one week before the hearing. Comments from the property owner, the State Historic Preservation Office, and other interested parties will be heard at the public hearing. The WCHPC will then vote on a recommendation.
Governing Board Review - The report will be forwarded to the appropriate local governing body, which will also hold a public hearing on the proposed designation. The applicant will be notified one week before the hearing. Comments from the property owner, the State Historic Preservation Office, and other interested parties will be heard at the public hearing and the WCHPC will present its recommendation. Following this public hearing, the local governing body may adopt an ordinance designating the property as a landmark, amend the ordinance or reject the proposal. Upon approval, written notice of the designation is mailed to the property owner. A certified copy of the ordinance is also mailed to the owner after it is filed with the Wake County Register of Deeds.
Attached is the designation report for the property,
comments from the Department of Cultural Resources on the proposed designation,
and a draft designation ordinance.
These documents are available at Wake County Planning Department and CAP