The City of Palestine has adopted the following regulations that control changes to properties in the Palestine Historic Districts and those properties designated as Palestine Landmarks: Chapter 40 Development, Article IV. Historic Preservation Establishes criteria for the designation of local historic landmarks and districts. Establishes minimum maintenance standards for historic properties. Establishes criteria for certificates of Appropriateness authorizing alterations or new construction standards affecting landmarks and historic district properties. Regulates the demolition of landmarks and or historic structures.
The Historic Preservation Ordinance is administered through the Development Services Department. This includes reviewing requests to make changes to historic properties, forwarding requests to the Historic Landmarks Commission for review if necessary and issuing building permits authorizing work to take place.
The Historic Landmarks Commission holds public meetings on the third Tuesday of every month in the City Council Chambers at City Hall. Meetings are posted a minimum of 72 hours in advance of the meeting.
Historic Landmarks Commission
The Palestine Historic Landmarks Commission holds public meetings for Beautification Awards, Designations of Palestine Landmarks and Palestine Historic Districts, reviews Certificate of Appropriateness for changes to properties that are Palestine Landmarks and in Palestine Historic Districts, and makes recommendations to the Planning and Zoning Commission regarding designations of Palestine Landmarks and Palestine Historic Districts. The Palestine Historic Landmarks Commission establishes annual goals and objectives to preserve Palestine's historic resources.
Palestine Historic Resources Survey
A historic resources survey was conducted in 1993 to determine which houses, buildings, and structures were historically and architecturally significant. The survey documented over 1,800 historic structures. The survey also provided the documentation for establishing four National Register Historic Districts through the Texas Historical Commission and the National Parks Service.
The number of historic structures in the four City National Register Historic Districts is one of the largest concentrations of historic structures in the State of Texas. The goal of the historic preservation ordinance is to protect historic resources within the City of Palestine.
To accomplish this goal and responsibility, the Palestine Historic Preservation Officer will assist property owners in making decisions regarding the upkeep, maintenance, repair, and improvement of their historic houses.
Demolition by Neglect
All owners of property in the City of Palestine are required to meet minimum maintenance requirements to their property. This applies to historic landmarks and districts as well. Failure to maintain property can result in substantial fines and additional penalties.
Examples of serious disrepair or significant deterioration include, but are not limited to:
- Deterioration of exterior walls, foundations, or other vertical support that causes leaning, sagging, splitting, lifting, or buckling.
- Deterioration of external chimneys that causes leaning, sagging, splitting, lifting, or buckling.
- Deterioration or crumbling of exterior plaster finishes, surfaces or mortars.
- Ineffective waterproofing of exterior walls, roofs, and foundations, including broken windows or doors.
- Defective protection or lack of weather protection for exterior wall and roof coverings, including lack of paint, or weathering due to lack of paint or other protective covering.
- Rotting, holes, and other forms of material decay, including, but not limited to, damage by termites or other insects.
- Deterioration of exterior stairs, porches, handrails, window and door frames, cornices, entablatures, wall facings, and architectural details that causes delaminating, instability, loss of shape and form, or crumbling.
- The Deterioration that has a detrimental effect upon the special character of the district as a whole or the unique attributes and character of the contributing structure.
- Deterioration of any exterior feature so as to create or permit the creation of any hazardous or unsafe conditions to life, health, or other property.
An approved Certificate of Appropriateness must be reviewed by the Historic Preservation Office prior to any action being taken in a Palestine historic district to the exterior only of the house that is visible from the street.
A certificate of appropriateness (COA) is a certificate authorizing plans for alteration, construction, removal, or demolition of a landmark, or improvement within a historic district.
The Historic Preservation Office will review an applicant's completed COA form the determination the necessity for review by the Historic Landmarks Commission.
If the Historic Landmarks Commission must review the COA, it will be reviewed at the next regular meeting of the Historic Landmarks Commission.
A COA form must be requested from the Historic Preservation Office, completed, reviewed, and approved by the Historic Landmarks Commission prior to any demolition of a structure or addition.
Process of Obtaining a Certificate of Appropriateness
A Certificate of Appropriateness is required for:
- Remodeling or changing the exterior appearance of a house if the work is visible from the street (the front and the side if it is on a corner)
- Demolition of a structure or an addition to a structure
- Fences on the front or side of the house are visible from the street. Historic fences included wood picket and iron on the front, wood plank (or privacy) and chain link on the back. Historic wood picket fences should be restored
A Building Permit is required for:
- Erecting a fence
- Roofing and structural repairs or changes
- Plumbing repairs or changes
- Electrical repairs or changes
- Mechanical repairs or changes
- Demolition of any structure or portion of a structure
A certificate of appropriateness is not required for:
- Repairing or exact replacement of the front porch flooring or ceiling material
- Repairing the siding material
- Remodeling the interior, back or side of the house that is not visible from the street