June 23, 2017
Michigan Historic Preservation Network Backs Tax Credit Legislation
LANSING – The Michigan Historic Preservation Network has announced its support of a Michigan Senate bill that will revive the state’s historic preservation tax credit. The bill, SB 469, sponsored by Sen. Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City) [co-sponsored by Senators Horn, Zorn, O’Brien, and Hertel] would effectively reinstate the tax credit program Michigan had in place from 1999 until 2011.
The bill offers a tax credit of up to 25 percent of qualified rehabilitation expenses for contributing commercial and residential properties located within a local historic district. As it did previously it offers a supplemental five percent credit to the 20 percent federal historic preservation credit for income producing properties, and is the only credit available for owner-occupied historic homes.
“From Mackinac Island to the district surrounding Detroit’s Fox Theatre, historic preservation projects have helped make Michigan places more attractive, more economically viable and more emotionally engaging with both residents and visitors,” says Nancy Finegood, executive director of the Michigan Historic Preservation Network. “From 1999 until 2011, many of those success stories were made possible by the Michigan Historic Preservation Tax Credit.”
“Making a historic building compliant with contemporary codes is often more costly than new construction. So for far too long, the only ‘incentives’ to encourage preservation were aesthetic and historic. This program offers a tangible economic incentive, as well … one that was used very successfully for more than a decade.”
Over its 11-year life, the program leveraged $71 million in credits to generate more than $1.46 billion in investment in Michigan rehabilitation projects. It also leveraged an additional $219 million in federal tax credits, and led to the creation of 36,000 jobs.
Among the projects the credit helped enable were the Nisbett Building in Big Rapids, the Mutual Building in Lansing, the Book Cadillac Hotel and Vernor Apartments in Detroit, the Temple Theatre in Saginaw and the Durant Apartments in Flint.
Finegood says MHPN, a statewide preservation advocacy group, strongly supports Senator Schmidt’s bill. “This will once again help make the historic properties that give our communities their unique character and sense of place economically viable.”
Want to reach out to your Michigan State Senator? Check out the Find Your Senator Page.
January 16, 2017
115th Congress is Sworn-in and Gets to Work on New Agenda, Including Tax Reform
The 115th Congress was officially sworn in on January 3rd. Republicans once again remain in charge of both the House and Senate, albeit with slightly diminished margins. Republican lawmakers are eager to get to work on a number of legislative priorities, like repealing the Affordable Care Act and tax reform. President-elect Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan have both targeted tax reform as a top priority of the new congress and administration, which could gain traction in the first 100 days. Perhaps more than ever before, the path forward on tax reform is clear. We expect tax reform legislation to be in line with the “A Better Way” tax reform blueprint proposed by House Republicans in June. The document proposed the elimination of tax credits and deductions, which would include the Historic Tax Credit. The Historic Tax Credit is in grave danger of elimination in tax reform.
The Historic Tax Credit (HTC) is the most significant federal financial commitment to historic preservation. Over the last 36 years, the credit has created 2.3 million jobs, leveraged $117 billion in investment, and rehabilitated more than 41,250 buildings-all while generating enough in federal revenue to pay for itself. As lawmakers are drafting tax reform legislation, members of congress (especially those on the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee) need to hear from constituents in support of the Historic Tax Credit!
- Contact House members of congress ASAP– Call (during office hours) or email the offices of your members of congress and ask to speak to tax staff or staff contacts you have in offices. If they are on the House Ways and Means Committee tell them to state their support for the Historic Tax Credit (HTC) when reviewing draft tax reform legislation. If they are not on the Ways and Means Committee- ask them to convey their support of the HTC to Chairman Kevin Brady other committee members. House Member lookup. Senators lookup.
Check out the HTC Fact Sheet from the Historic Tax Credit Coalition and the HTC 1-pager from Advocacy Week 2016 for materials and talking points. Also check out the new interactive mapping tool from Novogradac and Company to see HTC projects in your state or district.
- Join Webinar on Addressing the Threat to the HTC.Register today for a FREE webinar from Preservation Leadership Forum and the Government Relations team at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Preservation partners and National Trust President and CEO, Stephanie Meeks, will discuss the most pressing policy issues facing preservation, including challenges to the federal historic tax credit. The webinar will stream live on Thurs., Jan. 19, 2-3 p.m. ET.
- Attend Advocacy Week March 14-16th. One of the best ways to make your voice heard is in person, in Washington. Attend National Historic Preservation Advocacy Week, March 14-16th. Our annual advocacy week, brings over 250 preservationists to Washington D.C for 3 days to lobby congress for historic preservation policy, including the Historic Tax Credit. Advocacy Week registration is now open! Register today! Please contact MHPN Executive Director, Nancy Finegood if you would like to join the Michigan group in DC.
LAME DUCK SESSION CONCERN
August 23, 2016
Urgent Update on HB 5232 and SB 720
Michigan’s historic places drive economic development, attract businesses, draw tourists and new residents, create a sense of place, and enhance our quality of life. Keeping these historic places is so important that historic preservation has been upheld as a public purpose under the U. S. Constitution—preserving historic resources is a valid governmental goal and local historic district ordinances have been upheld as an appropriate means to secure that goal. Local historic districts are the only way for communities to manage and protect historic assets, and Michigan enables local historic districts through Public Act 169 of 1970. 78 communities to date have chosen to enact ordinances to protect their historic assets at the local level, under current state law. House Bill 5232 seeks to change Public Act 169, making it exponentially more difficult for a community to navigate the local historic district process by introducing multiple procedures for local legislative bodies and community members to follow depending on what they wish to accomplish.
The Michigan legislature has been on an in-district work period since June 8th but plan to return to session on September 7th. Both the House and Senate have a limited session schedule until following the November election. Upon their return, the legislature will enter what is commonly known as the “lame duck” session. This is a very intense time period in which many bills pass through the process at a very quick pace.
House Bill 5232 and Senate Bill 720, the legislation which amends the local historic district act, can be voted on until session has ended for the year. This means that we, as supporters of local historic districts, must remain vigilant by contacting your legislators indicating your continued opposition for the legislation. Please contact your legislators both in the House and Senate via email, phone or written note. You can find your legislators contact information by visiting http://house.michigan.gov/mhrpublic/ and http://www.senate.michigan.gov/fysbyaddress.html
April 26, 2016
March 31, 2016
Thank you for your continued opposition to HB 5232. We want to share an update on the latest draft of the bill, where the legislative process currently is, and how you can continue to assist.
HB 5232 was introduced on Jan. 26th and a substitute bill was adopted by the House Local Government Committee on Feb. 24th. Since that time, there have been several changes to the bill and it is now in its sixth draft. It is attached here along with MHPN’s most recent one-pager. The House and Senate are on spring break until April 12th and we are anticipating that either this most recent Draft 6 of HB 5232 or yet another draft will be formally introduced and perhaps voted on the next time Committee meets (Wednesday, April 13th @ noon). We will keep you all informed, when we receive notice. MHPN had a great presence in Lansing on March 23rd with its Advocacy Day and constituents from across the state had an opportunity to meet with legislators to voice their concerns and opposition. We thank everyone who participated in this important event.
Process for local historic district designation: The bill now introduces a requirement that the local legislative unit must establish precise boundaries of a proposed historic district ahead of time and must notify property owners of the proposed study area before being able to appoint the study committee. As proposed, if those boundaries change as the study committee researches, then all property owners have to be re-notified and the entire process begins again. The bill then establishes a procedure (borrowed from state zoning enabling legislation) that would allow a protest petition. In the protest petition scenario, if at least 20% of owners of land in the proposed district protested the district, then a 2/3 majority would be required by the elected officials to establish the district. This was proposed as a “circuit breaker” to allow property owners to act to stop the district process if they felt they needed to, but it still allows for the default to be historic preservation and historic districts. Questions remain as to how this process would work in proposed districts where a large landowner or two is opposed to a proposed district (including single resource districts) and how this proposal would impact emergency moratorium/interim designation resolutions to help prevent unwanted demolitions or alterations.
Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation: When historic district commissions review applications for work, there is ambiguity in the bill language as to whether the Standards would be mandatory or optional. The bill states that the Standards should be “consulted” rather than followed and later implies that local design guidelines may be followed if they are equivalent in guidance to the Standards. This language is unclear, perhaps intentionally, and does not provide historic district commissions any certainty in how they could best review projects.
Appeals: The local legislative unit will now determine what the local appeal process will be. Bodies that can hear appeals include a local legislative body, a zoning board of appeals, or “any other official local zoning or building construction appeal board established by ordinance”. Local appeals, in many cases, will be more costly to a community in its use of staff/board time if heard at the local level. Additionally, the number of appeals will likely increase from the current 1-2 that are heard by State Review Board per year as an aggrieved applicant would be familiar with the individuals they would appeal to — unnecessarily taking advantage of local connections and the political atmosphere. Our recommendation is that the State Review Board remain an option for a community and that they be able to choose to have appeals heard at the local level or, more impartially, at the State Review Board with its composition of historic preservation professionals familiar with the local historic district act.
Take Action! We encourage you to continue contacting your representatives and senators expressing outright opposition to the bill in any format. While the House and Senate are on spring break until April 12th, please do try to meet with your legislators in person, in their districts, to communicate how the bill would negatively impact your communities and local historic districts.
Sen. MacGregor: (517) 373-0797, SenPMacGregor@senate.michigan.gov
LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS ISSUE:
Reasons to establish a historic district, from Norman Tyler, Ted J. Ligibel, and Ilene R. Tyler, Historic Preservation: An Introduction to Its History, Principles, and Practice (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2009) – used with permission.
Sample Language Letter to Legislators (updated 3.8.2016)
READ THE BILLS
HB 5232 H-2 (Draft 6 – posted 3.31.2016; not yet accepted by Local Government Committee)
RESOLUTIONS AGAINST HB 5232 and SB 720
City Councils, Historic District Commissions, and history organizations across Michigan are recognizing that the two bills will be a major blow to their community.
Oakland County Board of Commissioners
Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners
MotorCities Board of Directors
Letter from Cadillac Historic District Commission
PRESS OPPOSING HB 5232 and SB 720
The following press is provided in chronological order with newest at the top; the most recent items address the substitute bill for HB 5232 placed before the Michgian House Local Government Committee on February 24, 2016.
EDITORIAL:History burners (The [Toledo] Blade, May 9, 2016)
Controversial historic preservation reforms are now history, by (WVFM 105.6 FM Kalamazoo, May 5, 2016)
Chatfield Shelving Historic District Bill, Gongwer News Service (April 28, 2016)
Concern for Mackinac Island stops bill to change historic preservation rules, by Peter Payette (Interlochen Public Radio, April 27, 2016)
Lessenberry discusses historic district legislation and kids with incarcerated parents, by Jack Lessenberry (Michigan Radio, April 27, 2016)
Nancy Finegood: New legislation threatens Michigan’s local historic district, by Nancy Finegood (MLive, April 19, 2016)
A millennial resident and small business owner’s perspective on the historic district debate, by Stephanie Kolbe (Heritage Herald, March/April 2016)
New legislation threaten the future of Michigan’s local historic districts, by Nancy Finegood (Bridge, April 7, 2016)
Finegood: Current Historic Districts Work, by Nancy Finegood (Lansing State Journal, April 3, 2016)
Bills HB 5232 & SB 720 “Historic Preservation Modernization Act,” by Heritage Hill Association Board of Directors (Heritage Hills Association, 2016)
Proposed Legislation Threatens Michigan’s Historic Districts, by Michigan Barn Preservation Network (Spring 2016)
Where Do Historic Districts Come From?, by Vincent Michael (Traditional Building, March 2016)
Historic district proposal offers stakeholders greater say, by State Reps. Jason Sheppard, R-Temperance and Chris Afendoulis, R-Grand Rapids Township (Bedford Now, March 12, 2016)
Local group opposes bills changing historical districts, by Mike Koury (C&G Newspapers, March 9, 2016)
Preserving our right to preserve: What proposed historic district legislation could mean locally, by Natalie Burg (Concentrate Ann Arbor, March 9, 2016)
Meet the Detroiter whose historic restoration skills are in demand around the country, by MJ Galbraith (ModelD, March 8, 2016)
OP ED: Overhaul of law for historic districts preserves local support for them, by Representatives Afendoulis and Sheppard (MLive, March 7, 2016)
Commission passes resolution opposing historic district act modifications, by Elena Hines, Managing Editor (Three Rivers Commercial-News, March 2, 2016)
Meijer Poised to Potentially Reap Millions If HB 5232 Approved, by Nancy Kotting (Watapama, March 1, 2016)
Why Meijer executive is thumbs down on Michigan historic districts, by Garret Ellison (MLive, March 1, 2016)
The Big Reason Historic Preservation Districts are a Good Idea, by Matt Carmichael (City Amenities Livability Blog, February 29, 2016)
Battle lines drawn over Michigan historic districts, by Louis Agiular (The Detroit News, Feburary 29, 2016)
Jack Lessenberry: ‘Modernization’ ahead for historic districts?, by Jack Lessenberry (Traverse City Record Eagle, February 27, 2016)
Local Historic Districts Act should remain unaltered, by the Three Rivers Historic District Commission (Three Rivers Commercial-News, February 27, 2016)
Keep: Historical district law a powerful tool, in peril, by Paul Keep (Lansing State Journal, February 26, 2016)
2 bills could be a disaster for historic districts in Michigan, by Jack Lessenberry (The Blade [Toledo], February 26, 2016)
Historic Preservation Threatened?, by Jack Lessenberry (Dome Magazine, February 26, 2016)
Historic Districts See Threat, by Stephanie Fortino (The St. Ignace News, February 25, 2016)
Grand Rapids pens letter to lawmakers over threat to historic districts, by Monica Scott (MLive, Feburary 24, 2016)
Planning expert: Legislation could “abolish historic districts” in Michigan (Stateside, Michigan Radio, Feburary 24, 2016)
Why We Support Historic Districts & Oppose Michigan HB5232 by Amy Haimer (
Overhaul of historic district law puts burden on property owners, by Sharon Ferraro (MLive, February 24, 2016)
Editorial: How not to preserve our past (The Blade [Toledo], February 23, 2016)
Affluent suburb behind push to dismantle Michigan historic districts, by Garrett Ellison (MLive, February 22, 2016)
Developers, preservationists puzzled by bills to update historic district statutes, by Nick Manes (MiBiz, February 21, 2016)
Feedback: ‘Historic’ legislation flawed, by Paul M. Keep (Detroit Free Press, February 20, 2016)
Fight to Preserve Historic Preservation Tools for Cities, by Anna Clark (Next City, February 18, 2016)
Rapid Blog: Afendoulis bill should disappear, not Grand Rapids’ historic districts, by Rebecca Smith-Hoffman (Rapid Growth, February 18, 2016)
Michigan Historic Districts imperiled, by Carlisle/Wortman Associates Inc. (Carlisle/Wortman Associates Inc., February 16, 2016)
An Open Letter to the Michigan Legislature, by Nancy Kotting (Watapama, February 16, 2016)
Michigan Legislation Endangers Historic Districts, Empowers Property Owners, by Shafaq Hasan (Nonprofit Quarterly, February 10, 2016)
City opposes changes to historic district regulations, by Adrian Hedden (Morning Sun News, Februrary 10, 2016)
Should Historic Districts Change? Why One Michigan Lawmaker Says Yes, by Patrick Sisson (Curbed Detroit, February 10, 2016)
Bills threaten local historic districts in Michigan, by John Gallagher (Detroit Free Press, February 10, 2016)
Proposed law would ‘kill’ Bay City’s Historic District, official says, by Andrew Dodson (MLive, February 9, 2016)
Preservation overhaul will cause damage of historic, economic proportions, by Nancy Kotting, Guest Writer (MLive, February 9, 2016)
Ann Arbor preservationists sound alarm on threat to local historic districts, by Ryan Stanton (MLive, February 9, 2016)
Leave Michigan’s historic districts alone, Detroit Free Press Editorial Board, Detroit Free Press, February 9, 2016
Let’s kick this up a notch!, MHPN email blast, February 8, 2016
State Lawmakers Consider Changes to Historic Preservation Laws, WOOD 106.9, February 8, 2016
Why Bother with Historic Districts, interview of Andrea Brown, Michigan Chapter of American Planning Commission, by Amy Miller (WDET, February 8, 2016)
Bills Could Dismantle Local Historic Districts Across State by Beth Dalbey (Wyandotte Patch, February 7, 2016)
Bills threaten local historic districts in Michigan, by John Gallagher (Detroit Free Press, February 6, 2016)
Bill Rewriting Historic District Act called ‘over-reaction’ by Sean Bradley (Manistee News Advocate, February 5, 2016)
Opinion: Michigan’s Historic Districts Act isn’t broke, so don’t fix it, by James Turner (ModelD, February 5, 2016)
JEOPARDIZED: Michigan Historic Districts Under Threat, by Maria Taylor (Preservation Farmington, February 4, 2016)
Leave laws that protect historic districts alone, by Amy Elliott Bragg (Hometown Life, February 4, 2016)
Local group expresses concern for fate of historic districts, by WWMT Staff (WWMT, February 3, 2016)
‘It’s absolutely despicable,” Ypsilanti council member says of bill to weaken historic districts, by Tom Perkins (MLive, February 3, 2016)
Historic districts: keeping the great places we already have, by Richard Murphy (Michigan Municipal League Placemaking, February 2, 2016)
Historic Districts Process Changed with Proposed Amendment, by Robin Runyan (Curbed Detroit, February 1, 2016)
Changes to historic district designation up for debate, by Kathleen Gray (Detroit Free Press, January 30, 2016)
Bills would make it harder to get, keep historic district status, by Sarah Cwiek (Michigan Radio, January 28, 2016)