State panel set to rule on historic district designation for downtown Plymouth

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – Downtown Plymouth is moving closer to being designated a historic district.

The Wisconsin Historical Society has placed the city’s application for the 100 to 400 blocks of East Mill St. on the agenda for the Feb. 19 meeting of the State Historic Preservation Review Board.

A presentation and public information meeting on the proposed district will be held Wednesday, Feb. 3, at 5:30 p.m. in the Fire Department training room, 111 E. Main St.

The meeting will include a presentation on the National Register program by Peggy Veregin, the WHS National Register coordinator. Rowan Davidson of Legacy Architecture in Sheboygan, who prepared the application, will talk about the architecture and history of the district. That will be followed by a question and answer period.

Downtown Manager Randy Schwoerer noted that he has heard nothing but positive comments on the proposed designation from downtown business and property owners.

“I have yet to have anybody opposed to the historic concept,” Schwoerer said. “It makes property owners eligible for tax credits for historic preservation. It winds up incentivizing people to enhance the historic look of buildings and get a tax credit back on money spent.”

If the application is successful, the downtown area would be listed on both the federal and state Register of Historic Places.

“Listing in the state and national registers provides recognition and assists in preserving our nation’s heritage,” Daina Penkiunas, deputy state historic preservation officer for the WHS, said in a letter announcing the meeting.

“Listing in the (registers) does not mean that limitations will be placed on the properties by the federal or state government,” Penkiunas continued in the letter. “Public visitation rights are not required of owners. Neither the state nor federal governments will attach restrictive covenants to the properties or seek to acquire them.”

At a meeting in November 2014 on the historic district application, Veregin emphasized that the designation is not restrictive on included properties.

“You do not need to get approval from our office (for a building project in the district),” she explained then. “You can ignore that you’re in a historic district if you want to, or embrace the tax credits. You do not have to apply for the tax credits if you do work on your building.”

Any property owner included in the proposed district can choose to be excluded and if a majority of the owners in the proposed district object, the district will not be listed on the registers.

Remodeling or building projects that maintain the historic nature of the district can be eligible for federal and state tax credits of up to 20 percent, according to Jennifer Lehrke of Legacy Architecture.

Those credits, she added, can be spread out over a number of years if it is benefi- cial to the property owner.

If the district is approved by the WHS, it will then go to the National Park Service for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.

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