City debates future of Ripon’s historical districts

Should Ripon’s Historic Preservation Commission be strictly an advisory group, recommending property owners adhere to historic guidelines, or should it have the teeth to require them to do so?

That’s the question facing the Ripon Common Council.

Because the city discovered this year that none of its four historic districts were created correctly on the local level, it’s now in the unique position of being able to hit the reset button.

It now can decide whether to have the commission function as it originally was intended to — as a group with the power to regulate changes within those districts — or take a less intrusive approach.

The advantage to changing would be less red tape for property owners in the districts ... but it also would mean that those same districts might lose some of their historical feel.

City Attorney Lud Wurtz explained the issue to aldermen at Monday’s Common Council meeting.

“We had the situation previously with the Tygert district ... Research was done and it was determined that the local designation ... was not properly applied in that situation. Further research has been done in respect to whether or not we have any local designations in the city of Ripon. It was determined we do not because there has been no proper recording and notice to the interested property owners to meet the requirements of the ordinance as written,” he said. “As we sit today, we have state designations, federal designations but we do not have any properly, locally designated historic districts.

“Consequently, there is no control by the Historic Preservation Commission over any properties in the city wanting to apply for a certificate of appropriateness.”

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