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Historic Preservation Commission FAQs

Everything You Need to Know

What does the Mishawaka Historic Preservation Commission do?

  • Works with neighborhoods to create historic districts and preservation guidelines.
  • Helps homeowners protect and preserve their properties.
  • Provides free professional advice.
  • Creates public enthusiasm for the protection of the unique character of the community’s past and present for the future.

What is a Historic District?

A historic district is a geographically definable area with a significant concentration of buildings, structures, sites, spaces and objects unified by past events, physical development, design, setting, materials, workmanship, a sense of cohesiveness or related historic association.

The purpose of a historic district is to protect and preserve the historic character and value of a neighborhood or area.

What are the benefits of a Historic District?

  • Increased property values.
  • Protects residential character of neighborhood.
  • Prevents unnecessary demolition.
  • Guards against intrusion of incompatible new construction.

How is a conservation district different than a historic district?

A local historic district is protected by local Historic Preservation Commission through a design review process.  Review is required for proposed changes to the exterior of the structure and the grounds.  Guidelines are created through input from the district prior to its creation. 

A Conservation District is a form of local historic district but in whose area only demolition, new construction and moving of buildings is reviewed.  Three years after its establishment, the district votes on whether to remain a conservation district or move to full historic district status.

What Does the Local Designation Mean to Me as a Property Owner?

Can I make changes to my property?

Yes. As an owner of a property within a historic district, any proposed exterior changes other than regular maintenance require a Certificate of Appropriateness. The Historic Preservation Commission reviews changes involved with the exterior of the property only.

What is a certificate of appropriateness (COA)?

A COA is an application that is available in the Mishawaka Planning Department, which requests approval for proposed exterior changes. A COA should be submitted to the Planning Department at least 10 days before the monthly meeting. Commission meetings are held on the first Tuesday of each month.

When will a decision be made?

The commission reviews COA applications at its regular monthly meeting. In some cases, a special meeting can be organized, or staff can approve some work to help expedite the process. The commission, based on the adopted design guidelines for the district, will make its decision.

The commission, along with planning department staff, will be happy to assist as you plan your project.

How do I establish a historic district or landmark?

Contact any member of the Mishawaka Historic Preservation Commission, the City of Mishawaka Building department or the Planning and Community Development department to find out more about local historic districts/landmarks and ways to begin recognizing and protecting your historic neighborhood.