Heritage Preservation Ordinance

Originally written in 1976 (with text amendments in 1991 and 2008), the City of Saint Paul’s Heritage Preservation Ordinance (Chapter 73 of the City's Code of Ordinances) has helped the community retain its historic character.  However, shortcomings have emerged and much has changed in the field of historic preservation since the original ordinance was adopted.  It has become clear that Saint Paul could benefit from greater clarity on roles and processes in our ordinance.

The Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) formed an Ordinance Committee in 2003 and 2009,  both focused on community outreach and information gathering.  Surveys and interviews with a diverse set of stakeholders identified several areas to work on including:

Heritage preservation staff, along with the City Attorney's Office, worked to develop the committee’s findings into new ordinance language.

Updates to Legislative Code Chapter 73 are currently suspended pending further review. Planning and Economic Development Director Dr. Bruce Corrie released the following statement on June 14, 2018 regarding the Historic Preservation Commission’s policy review process.

“Saint Paul is a distinctly beautiful city because of our mix of old and new home structures. The City requires all properties, regardless of historic status, to be maintained according to building code to ensure healthy and safe communities. I am incredibly grateful to the residents of Saint Paul’s heritage districts who have done an excellent job of maintaining and preserving our shared history.

Over the past several weeks, City staff have listened to feedback from residents, much of which was focused on improving our design review processes. As a result, we are suspending our efforts to update the Legislative Code Chapter 73 so that we can focus on clarifying and expediting the design review process. The proposed updates were never meant to unjustly burden our residents of historic districts, but instead, offer an opportunity to reexamine our policies and workflow so we can provide more clarity and efficient service to property owners.

Additionally, we are reviewing our Environmental Assessment Worksheet obligations with the State Historic Preservation Office and Environmental Quality Board to address the concerns we have heard from residents of the state and national Hill Historic District.”


Send a Comment

The draft of the updated Heritage Preservation Ordinance expands upon the concepts of the original, codifies established practices, and expands on several areas:

  • Definitions-clarifying terminology used by the Heritage Preservation staff and the Heritage Preservation Commission
  • Clarifying that City permits cannot be issued until Heritage Preservation design review is completed
  • Clarifying that Heritage Preservation design review may contain conditions of approval
  • Expanding Heritage Preservation approvals from one year to two years, matching the time frame of a building permit
  • Establishing a review time limit parallel to MN State Statute 15.99
  • Requiring a complete application for review and criteria for a complete application
  • Establishing a definition of incomplete applications and the treatment of these applications
  • Changing "Certificate of Approval" to "Certificate of Heritage Preservation Commission Decision"
  • Clarification that the historic use variance will not adversely impact the historic integrity of the site
  • Expanding noticing requirements from 100’ to 350’, matching the distance required by other agencies    


  • Establishing fees to defray City costs incurred for Heritage Preservation Commission reviews
    • Note: On average, less than 8% of applicants require Heritage Preservation Commission review
  • Fees are divided into two tiers: administrative review and Commission review


  • Moving requirements for State & National Register properties to the Heritage Preservation Commission
  • Streamlining the process by a minimum of 30 days  


  • Introducing interim protection for sites or districts undergoing Heritage Preservation Commission approved designation studies
  • Exterior work will be reviewed by Heritage Preservation staff 
  • Decisions are based on the Secretary of the Interiors Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties
  • Work to properties that do not meet the threshold as defined by Heritage Preservation Commission policy will be forwarded for permits

Current Ordinance Updated Ordinance Draft

Send a Comment