Ald. John Splitt, left, offers his perspective on the strength of the Historic Preservation Commission, of which he is a member. Ald. Rollie Peabody listens.
Ald. John Splitt, left, offers his perspective on the strength of the Historic Preservation Commission, of which he is a member. Ald. Rollie Peabody listens.

   The city of Ripon essentially hit the reset button Tuesday night on its historic districts and the commission created to manage them.

   At Tuesday’s Common Council meeting, aldermen voted unanimously to empower its Historic Preservation Commission to recreate a series of locally registered historic districts rendered null by a procedural oversight.

   This action upholds the spirit of why the Historic Preservation Commission was created, and guarantees that it will continue to have the metaphorical “teeth” to ensure that the exterior of buildings in historic districts conform to certain historic standards.

   A snafu developed months ago when it was discovered that Ripon’s existing local historic districts had not been created properly because they had not been registered on the appropriate properties’ titles with Fond du Lac County.

   As such, it is possible many property owners didn’t even know they were within a historic district. Such homeowners also likely didn’t know that they are required to run certain building alterations past the Historic Preservation Commission to receive a “certificate of appropriateness.”

   When this oversight was discovered, the question was asked whether Ripon still wanted the commission to have such power — or whether homeowners should have less red tape to cut through when making changes to their properties. In this latter scenario, the commission would be no more than an advisory body, only able to recommend ways to keep properties looking historic.

  That was the question before the Common Council Tuesday after the body tabled the issue at its last meeting in November.

Read the full story in the Dec. 14, 2017 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.