Minimizing Controversy in Preservation Decisions | HPC Training | Wisconsin Historical Society

Guide or Instruction

Taking a Proactive Approach to Community Relations

Chapter 10: Preservation Community Relationships, Page 1 of 5

Minimizing Controversy in Preservation Decisions | HPC Training | Wisconsin Historical Society

Historic preservation commissions that adopt a proactive approach to problems will benefit by avoiding or minimizing controversy and potential problems. A proactive approach has two key components:

  • Maintaining positive community relations
  • Educating key audiences

Maintaining Positive Community Relations

The first tool in a proactive approach is maintaining positive community relations. It is extremely important for the commission to develop and maintain good working relationships and effective communication with elected officials, departments of local government, and property owners. If the commission is on friendly terms with these parties, it will be in a much better position to address rising problems and much more likely to get cooperation.

Tips for Developing Positive Community Relationships
  • Keep in regular contact with neighborhood associations, and inform them of the commission's activities
  • Be open and receptive to the concerns of property owners
  • Give property owners direction and provide them with helpful information and alternative solutions
  • Involve residents in commission activities as much as possible
  • Ask for the community's input when forming districts, developing ordinances, and making long-range plans
  • Be inclusive and welcoming

Educating Key Audiences

Education is the second essential tool in a proactive approach:

Provide Educational Materials to the Community
Have plenty of informative materials, meetings, workshops, presentations, and/or other methods of illustrating the importance of historic preservation to the community's key constituents (owners, elected officials, city office personnel, realtors, and others).
Keep Current Historic Property Owners Informed
Make sure current residents are aware of the benefits and responsibilities that come with owning historic properties.
Welcome and Educate New Historic Property Owners
Develop a package of "Welcome Wagon" materials for new property owners in historic districts. This package should include the following:

  • The local preservation ordinance
  • Design guidelines
  • Any other documents that outline the rules and regulations that affect an owner's property, inform property owners of the kind of work reviewed and how the process works, and identify their responsibilities