Historic review board to begin in Lisbon

LISBON –The architectural historic review board is officially open for business nearly 30 years after it was created by Village Council.

Letters were mailed in mid-November to more than 50 people who own properties in the downtown business district advising them that in the future any proposed changes to their buildings’ exteriors would have to be run past the AHRB for approval.

“We certainly hope all of the property owners will check with us before they do any (exterior) remodeling,” said AHRB President John Deichler.

The AHRB was actually created in 1988 to preserve historic buildings in the village’s downtown, but it remained dormant and unused until council filled the board positions in May on the recommendation of Mayor Joseph Morenz, who has made revitalizing the downtown one of his top priorities.

The five-member AHRB spent the next six months becoming familiar with its duties before sending out the letters advising property owners they were now functioning. Property owners must first obtain a “certificate of appropriateness” from the AHRB that any proposed changes would not significantly alter the historic architecture and look of their building. At least two property owners already came to the AHRB for approval months before the letters were mailed after learning the AHRB had been revived.

Failure to apply for and receive AHRB approval could result in the property owner being penalized, but the letter did not say how. Deichler said they hope it never comes to that.

“We want this to be voluntary and we want to work with property owners,” he said.

Mayor Morenz said they do not envision requiring property owners to undertake costly renovations. He said it would likely be something as simple as requiring they used a historically appropriate paint when repainting a facade. “It’s just to keep our historic buildings looking historic,” he explained.

Deichler said they will be using the original map from 1988 that defines the AHRB district as bordered by Washington Street to the south, Chestnut Street to the north, Jefferson Street to the east and the alley that runs parallel to the American Legion to the west. Morenz intends to eventually ask council to make the village zoning map, which has a slightly larger boundary, serve as the AHRB map too so there is less confusion.

Deichler pointed out the law gives AHRB discretion to extend its authority to historic properties located outside the district on a case-by-case basis when deemed appropriate. He said an example would by the old train depot on South Market Street, which is just outside the district.