Frequently Asked Questions about Development
- Why do I need to know the adopted land use of a property I want to develop?
Almost everywhere within the city limits of Kansas City, Mo., there is a land use plan that has been adopted by the City Council that makes recommendations on how the land should be used in the future. The recommendations are generally made after public hearings and a review of current land use, looking at what uses would be compatible located next to each other, what kind of access is available. The adopted land use plan is public policy that guides public decisions on zoning, rezoning, development and redevelopment of land. Any rezoning must be in compliance with the adopted plan. If you want to change the use of your land, for instance by putting a store where there used to be a house, you should call the planning department to find out what the adopted land use plan calls for at that location. If the adopted plan does not call for the use that you intend, either the department will recommend against the new use or the department will require that the land use plan be amended.
- What do I do if the adopted land use does not allow for the use I am proposing?
If the type of development or use of the land is not in conformance with the adopted land use plan for that area, there are two courses of action. First, if the proposed use is not in conformance with the recommended land use and not in conformance with the zoning classification for the land, you must apply for Land Use Plan Amendment. But, if the proposed use is not in conformance with the recommended land use and is in conformance with the zoning classification of the land, then you may not need to apply for an amendment. In the second case, you would need to contact the City Planning and Development Department for clarification.
- What is the procedure for obtaining a land use amendment?
In order to determine if your proposed development of your property is not in compliance with the legally adopted land use, you first need to meet with a long range planner from the Planning, Preservation and Urban Design Division. If is determined that you do indeed need an amendment, you must file an official application indicating what you want to do with your property and a development site plan (showing proposed uses). There is $250 filing fee associated with an application payable upon filing. You will receive notification of the date that your case will be heard before the City Planning Commission, and all property owners within 185 feet will also be notified of the application and pending public hearing. The long range planner assigned to your case will notify you if more information is required or if a meeting needs to be set up among you, City staff and any other interested parties (i.e. the neighborhood). Both the City Planning Commission and Plans, Zoning and Economic Development Committee of City Council are public hearings and public testimony will be taken. If your case is approved by the City Planning Commission, it is advanced to the Plans, Zoning and Economic Development Committee of City Council. If it is approved by this Council committee, it is then advanced to full Council for a final determination. If you case is denied at any point in this process, talk with your assigned planner to determine what your next course of action could be.
- What is the difference between a rezoning and a land use amendment?
Zoning is the basic means of land use control employed by local governments in the United States. Zoning divides the community into districts (zones) and imposes different land use controls on each district, specifying the allowed uses of land and buildings, intensity or density of such uses and the bulk of buildings on the land. Traditionally, use regulations have separated land uses into four basic categories: residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural. A rezoning is a process where a zoning category is changed to another to accommodate a specific use.
A land use plan is a document that is a result of lengthy and intensive study and analysis. The time scale is long-range and contains objectives to a number of interdependent elements, including population growth, economic development, land use, transportation and community facilities. A land use amendment is a process where a recommended land use category in a specific area is changed to accommodate a specific use.
- Do I need a land use amendment if my property is zoned correctly for development?
A land use plan is viewed as advisory and not binding on zoning decisions. Local governments can benefit from developing, adopting, and following a good master plan. Such a plan coordinates future zoning and capital improvement budgeting so that new public improvements are placed in areas most likely to develop.
If the property in question is correctly zoned for a specific use and the land use plan recommends a similar use, a land use amendment would not be required. However, if the land use plan recommends a different use than the current zoning, a land use amendment would be required to be consistent with the zoning.
- How does a neighborhood apply for a downzoning?
What is Downzoning?
Rezoning to a lower density or intensity: i.e. from commercial to residential or from multifamily to a single-family district.
What is the Purpose of Zoning?
General Purpose -- "Public health, safety and welfare." (Chapter 39.030, Zoning Ordinance of Kansas City, Mo.)
Specific Purpose -- Promotes compatible land uses and supports property owners' confidence that adjacent land uses will not harm the value or the conditions of their property.
Zoning achieves these purposes by regulating allowable:
- Land use
- Building height
- Lot dimensions
Zoning does not regulate:
- Type of occupancy (ownership or rental)
- Financing (private or publicly assisted)
Potential benefits of downzoning to less intense residential uses include:
- Added difficulty in allowing inappropriate uses in areas facing land use issues.
- Long-term increase in single-family homes.
- Prevents additional multifamily units.
- Prevents increase in traffic and parking problems throughout the neighborhood.
- Decreased competition in the neighborhood rental market.
How is it determined specifically where a downzoning is appropriate?
A number of factors are analyzed, including:
- Lot frontages -- There is a minimum frontage set for different districts. Which lots would not have the minimum required frontage?
- Lot sizes -- There is a minimum square footage set for different districts.
- Land uses -- Are the lots now vacant, used for single family houses, or duplexes?
- Can/should the lots continue to be used for single family or multifamily housing? If redevelopment occurs, does single family housing make sense economically and otherwise (i.e. topography, access, adjacent use)?
- Are there clusters or logical blocks of the same type of housing located next to each other that make sense in a contiguous sense and would not constitute "spot zoning"?
- Do the property owners within those areas understand and agree with the rezoning?
Requirements to initiate a downzone/rezone from the neighborhood level:
- Compliance with the adopted plan for the area. Consult the long range planner assigned to your area.
- A defined logical area where most parcels would comply with the dimensions and square footage required by the new zone. If the area designated is not logical or is very small, it could be considered "spot zoning," which is illegal.
NOTE: If many properties do not comply with the new zoning (i.e. they are too small or they are not single-family uses), then they become "Continuing Legal Non-Conforming Uses" (CLNU's), which means the owners have to secure a Certificate of CLNU in order to continue to be a legal use (taking time and money from both the owner and the City for research and processing). If the single family house on a lot that does not meet the requirements of the new district is totally destroyed, it cannot be rebuilt on the same lot because the lot would not meet the new requirements.
- Notify ALL property owners who are being considered for rezoning before the final rezoning boundaries are chosen. Give them the opportunity to learn about and understand the process, and discuss why they do or do not want to be included in the rezoning (this includes not only owner-occupants, but also owners of rental property whether they live in the neighborhood, the city or outside Kansas City).
The Zoning Ordinance requires all property owners within the boundaries of the proposed rezoning to be notified, as well as those within 185 feet of the proposed rezoning because a rezoning/downzoning limits what a property owner can legally do with his or her property, so the owner has a right to know about the proposed rezoning and to speak at the community meetings and hearings.
- Secure the agreement of most property owners in the area to be rezoned, before the CPC Hearing. People are more likely to support something that affects their property if they understand why it is being done and the benefits. If they do not hear about the proposal until the hearing before the City Plan Commission, they are likely to testify against it.
Only the property owner, his/her designated representative, the Director of City Development, the City Council, governmental agency or corporation having the power of eminent domain can apply for a rezoning. Current department policy is that council sponsorship is necessary for a downzoning. None of these parties would go through the time and expense of initiating a rezoning process unless they are assured the support of most of the property owners, so that when the rezoning case has a hearing before the City Plan Commission, there is widespread support for the rezoning.
- Obtain City Council sponsorship and the City government process will take over.
- What is the Landmarks Commission and what do they do?
What is the Landmarks Commission?
The Landmarks Commission is the nine-member Kansas City, Mo., Commission that is responsible for identifying and recommending designation for the historic landmarks and historic districts. The Commission also regulates changes to designated historic properties and historic districts.
When was the Commission established?
The Landmarks Commission was established in 1970 in response to rising public concern for the irreplaceable loss to the community of significant historic structures and sites.
Why is it important to designate and protect landmarks and historic districts?
As the Landmarks Ordinance explains, protection of these resources serves the following purposes: safeguarding the city's historic, aesthetic and cultural heritage; helping to stabilize and improve property values in historic districts; encouraging civic pride in the beauty and accomplishments of the past; protecting and enhancing the city's attractions for tourists, thereby benefiting business and industry; strengthening the city's economy; and promoting the use of landmarks for the education, pleasure and welfare of the people of the city.
What is a "landmark?"
A "landmark" is a building, site, property or object that has been recommended by the Landmarks Commission and designated by the City Council because it has a special character or special historical or architectural values as part of the development, heritage, or cultural characteristics of the city, state or nation. A property or object is generally considered eligible for landmark status when it is 50 years or older. The criteria for Local Historic Designation are the same as required by the National Register of Historic Places.
What types of designation can the Commission make?
The two types of landmarks are individual landmarks and historic districts.
- An individual landmark is a single property, object, site or building that has been recommended for designation by the Landmarks Commission and designated by the City Council. The Mutual Musicians Foundation and Union Station are examples of individual landmarks.
- An historic district is an area of the city recommended for designation by the Landmarks Commission and designated by the City Council that represents at least one period or style of architecture typical of one or more areas in the city's history; as a result, the district has a distinct "sense of place." The Pendleton Heights and Rockhill neighborhoods are examples of sections of the city that have been designated historic districts.
How many buildings has the City Council designated?
Since 1970, the City Council has designated more than 60 individual landmarks, and 19 historic districts (containing more than 1,100 properties). These buildings are a small percentage of Kansas City's approximate 155,846 buildings but they are very important to the city's historic, aesthetic and cultural heritage.
Who are the Landmarks Commissioners?
Pursuant to the Landmarks Ordinance, the nine Commissioners must include at least one architect, one historian, one attorney, one mortgage lender and one realtor. The other members should possess a demonstrated interest in, competence or knowledge of historic preservation. Commissioners serve without compensation and are appointed by the Mayor for three-year terms. The chairman is designated by the mayor.
What are the Commissioners’ duties?
The Commissioners meet at least once a month for public hearings and public meetings. At these meetings, they address Commission policies review, discuss, and vote on landmark designations and applications to make changes to designated properties (called Certificate of Appropriateness); and establish guidelines for future alterations to designated buildings. Sub-committees of Commissioners are often created to review particular items and to make recommendations to the full Commission. There is, for instance, a Survey and Research Committee.
Who are the City staff that assist the Commission?
The Commission's staff, headed by the Administrator, are a part of the City Planning and Development Department and referenced as the Historic Preservation Management Division.
What does the City's staff do?
The City staff assigned to the Commission conducts surveys to identify, record and evaluate potential landmarks and historic districts; carries out research; makes presentations to the Commissioners on the history and significance of proposed landmark properties; prepares detailed reports on proposed landmarks and historic districts; reviews Certificate of Appropriateness; works with applicants who propose alterations or additions to designated properties or new construction in historic districts; administers a volunteer survey program and urban archaeology program; and assesses and reports on the impact of development proposals on the city's architectural resources. The City staff also administers the Landmarks Historic Trust Corporation preservation easement program.
How can I learn more about the Landmarks Commission?
If you would like more information, call or write the Landmarks Commission at City Hall, 16th Floor, 414 East 12th St., Kansas City, MO 64106; telephone (816) 513-2902.
- What does it mean if my property is designated to the Kansas City Register of Historic Places?
My property has been designated as a historic landmark or as part of a historic district. What does this mean?
When your property has been designated as a historic landmark or as part of a historic district, the City Council officially recognizes that your property has special historical, cultural or aesthetic value and your property is an important part of Kansas City's historical and architectural heritage.
To help protect the city's landmarks from inappropriate changes or destruction, the Landmarks Commission must approve in advance any alteration, reconstruction, demolition or new construction affecting the designated properties.
What is a historic district?
A historic district is an area of the city that has been designated by the City Council because it has a special character or a special historical or aesthetic interest which causes it to have a distinct "sense of place." Each historic district represents at least one period or style of architecture typical of one or more eras in the city's history.
How can I find out if my property is designated?
If you do not know whether your property is an individual landmark or located within the boundaries of a historic district, contact the Landmarks Commission. You may also consult the list of properties on the Kansas City Register of Historic Places that is available from the Commission.
How large are historic districts?
Historic districts range in size from small groups of historic properties to areas containing hundreds of properties. Union Hill, Rockhill and Pendleton Heights are examples of areas of the city that contain historic districts.
My property is located in a historic district. Do I need the Commission's approval to make changes?
Yes. Every designated structure, whether it is an individual landmarks or a property in a historic district, is protected under the Landmarks Ordinance and subject to the same review procedures. If you want to perform restoration work, new construction, demolition, alterations to landscape plans or alterations to your property (with the exception of ordinary repairs), you must obtain the Commissions approval before you begin the work. This approval is called a Certificate of Appropriateness.
Are there any types of work that do not require the Commissions approval?
Ordinary and necessary maintenance, which does not involve a material change such as replacing broken window glass or removing painted graffiti, does not require Commission's approval. You can call the Landmarks Commission office at (816) 513-2902 to find out whether approval is needed for work you are considering.
I own a 1970s building in a historic district. Why does the Landmarks Commission review changes to my property?
To preserve a historic district's special character, the Commission reviews changes to all buildings within its boundaries.
The Commission must review the proposed changes to your property to ensure the overall design is sensitive to the scale and character of the historic district and that the alterations will not detract from the special qualities of the surrounding properties in the district.
If you apply to the Landmarks Commission to make changes to your property the Commission will take into account the fact that your property is a contemporary (non-conforming) structure. You will not be asked to alter your design to make it look "old-fashioned." If you want to put in new windows, for example, you will not be asked to install multi-paned wooden windows if they did not exist before.
Can the Landmarks Commission make me restore my property to the way it looked when it was first built?
No. The Commission reviews only changes that the property owner proposes to make.
Will the Landmarks Commission make me repair my property?
To help prevent "demolition by neglect," whereby historic properties are allowed to deteriorate, the Landmarks Ordinance requires that designated property be kept in good repair and meet the minimum requirements of the Property Maintenance Code and any other regulatory codes. If you are interested in finding out about making repairs to your designated property, call the Landmarks Commission office at (816) 513-2902.
Will landmarks designation prevent all alterations and new construction?
No. Landmark designation does not "freeze" a property or an area. Alterations, demolition and new construction continue to take place, but the Landmarks Commission must review the proposed changes and find them to be appropriate. This procedure helps ensure the special qualities of the designated buildings are not compromised or destroyed.
In addition, new construction may occur when an owner of a vacant lot or building of no significance in a historic district wishes to construct a new building on the site. The Commission has approved such proposals when the design of the infill or replacement building was appropriate to the character of the historic district.
I own a designated property. Should I tell the tenants in my building about the property's landmark status?
Yes. You should inform each of your tenants that the property is in the Kansas City Register of Historic Places and subject to the provisions of the Landmarks Ordinance. The Commission must approve alterations in advance. If a tenant makes alterations without receiving Landmarks Commission approval before doing the work, the building owner and the tenant will be held responsible.
If I sell my property, should I tell the new owner that the property is a historic landmark or within a historic district?
Yes. Even though the Landmarks Commission sends out annual notices, it will help the new owner to comply with the Landmarks ordinance.
May I demolish a designated building on a historic property?
You may apply for a Certificate of Appropriateness to demolish a building on a designated property. In reviewing applications for demolition the Commission will consider the basis of the designation, whether demolition is necessary on the basis of economic hardship, the original purpose of the building, purposed for which it is adaptable, rate of return, rentals and other points, if presented in the application.
Are landmarks owned by not-for-profit organizations subject to the same regulations as the other landmarks?
Yes. The criteria for approving permits for work on properties owned by not-for-profit owners are the same as the criteria for work on other properties.
Is being listed in the Kansas City Register of Historic Places different from being listed in the National Register?
Yes. The National Register of Historic Places is a list of buildings and sites of local, state, or national importance. This program is administered by the National Park Service through the Historic Preservation Program, Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The National Register has no connection to the Landmarks Commission, although many properties listed on the Kansas City Register also are listed in the National Register. For information, contact the Missouri State Historic Preservation Office, Department of Natural Resources, P.O. Box 176, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0176; Telephone (573) 751-2479.
How do I find out more about the effects of local designation?
Members of the public are encouraged to contact the Landmarks Commission office to discuss questions or concerns about the effects of designation. The Landmarks Commission office provides information about the designation process, and answers questions about the designation process and performing work on designated buildings. If a building owner needs more information, a meeting at the Commission's office can be arranged.
The staff of the Landmarks Commission is experienced in working with owners to help them meet their practical needs while preserving the architectural and historic character of the city's landmarks.
If you would like more information, call or write
City Hall, 16th Floor
414 East 12th St.
Kansas City, MO 64106
Phone (816) 513-2902
- How do I get a building or neighborhood designated to the Kansas City Register of Historic Places?
The following steps are taken to designate a building or neighborhood to the Kansas City Register of Historic Places:
Applicant submits completed application form, including physical, historical and legal description of property or district, photographs of nominated property(ies) and application fee ($100/building to a maximum of $1,000)
Application is reviewed by staff and is assessed for its fulfillment of the National Register Criteria for Evaluation.
Nomination is presented to the Landmarks Commission. Landmarks Commission evaluates the property or district's historic and architectural significance. If the Commission determines that the nomination meets one or more of the National Register Criteria, the nomination is forwarded for further review.
Nomination is presented to the City Plan Commission, which evaluates the zoning and land-use implications of the nomination.
Nomination is presented to the Plans, Zoning & Economic Development Committee of City Council in the form of an ordinance. PZ&E evaluates all of the information previously presented as well as the recommendations of the Landmarks Commission and Plan Commission. The Committee's recommendation is forwarded to full City Council for vote.
An affirmative vote of the City Council passes the ordinance which creates the Kansas City Register landmark or historic district.
To obtain an application to designate a property or district to the Kansas City Register of Historic Places, please call (816) 513-2902
- What is a Certificate of Appropriateness?
When is a Certificate of Appropriateness required?
A Certificate of Appropriateness is required when changes are made to Kansas City Register-listed buildings. Each of Kansas City's designated landmarks and historic districts possesses a special character or special historic cultural or architectural significance. The Landmarks Commission helps preserve these buildings and sites by regulating alterations to their significant features.
The Landmarks Commission does not prevent owners from making changes to their designated properties. Instead, the Landmarks Commission works with owners to make certain that alterations are appropriate and do not detract from the special character of the city's landmarks and historic districts.
When do I need approval from the Landmarks Commission to make changes to my designated property?
The Commission under ordinance must approve in advance any restoration, alteration, reconstruction, demolition, new construction or landscape plan visible from any public place affecting any designated property, including buildings in historic districts.
Landmarks Commission approval is required in advance for any project even if a building permit from the Codes Administration is not needed for the proposed work.
Do I need Commission approval to complete ordinary maintenance?
You do not need approval from the Landmarks Commission to perform ordinary and necessary maintenance if it does not include a material change. For example, you do not need approval to replace broken window glass, repaint a building exterior to match the existing color or caulk around windows and doors.
If you have any doubt about whether approval is needed call the Landmarks Commission office.
I am considering making changes to my property, but I have some general questions about the commission's policies. What should I do?
You may call the Landmarks Commission office if you need information about the application process, details about the types of drawings or other materials that may be required, or general guidance.
Once you have filed an application form and your application has been assigned to a staff member, a meeting with the staff member may be arranged. This meeting provides an opportunity for you to discuss your plans in more detail.
I want to enlarge my building located on a historic property. May I consult with the Landmarks Commission about my proposal before I file an application?
Yes. If you plan to file an application to enlarge your building or to construct a new building in a historic district, you may with to meet with a staff member of the Historic Preservation Management Division of the City Planning and Development Department to discuss your proposal. Such a meeting may be helpful if you have any questions about the Landmarks Commission's policies or procedures.
How Do I Apply for a Certificate of Appropriateness?
A Certificate of Appropriateness (CofA) is required when changes are being made to the exterior of a Kansas City Register-listed building (either an individual landmark or a property included in a historic district). Landmarks Commission Schedule holds hearings generally on the fourth Friday of each month. The application deadline is three weeks prior to each hearing. What material and information should I include with my Landmarks Commission application form?
The descriptive materials needed to complete your application should illustrate the existing conditions of the property and the proposed changes. Depending on the type of work proposed, the descriptive materials should include drawings, photographs, samples of proposed materials and/or written specifications. Drawings should be dimensioned and indicate design, materials, finish and coloration.
For instance, an application for a property in a historic district should include photographs showing the property's relationship to the neighboring properties in the historic district.
For a complex proposal, such as a proposal to construct a building in a historic district, submit written statements, drawings, photographs and material samples. You may wish to submit a model if it will help to explain the proposal.
For an application to replace windows, clear photographs of the building, drawings showing a section and elevation of existing and proposed windows, and a sample of the proposed window finish may be needed.
What happens after I file my application?
The application is given a docket number and assigned to a member of the Historic Preservation Management Division of the City Planning and Development Department. If the application is incomplete, the staff member will contact you and explain what additional materials are needed. Depending on the complexity of the proposal, the staff may suggest that you and your architect or contractor come to the Commission's office to discuss the proposed project. A meeting at the property may be arranged.
The staff member will then review the proposal to evaluate the effect of the proposed changes on the architectural and historic character of the building and/or the historic district in respect to the Secretary of the Interior Standards for Rehabilitation.
The staff will only consider issues such as economic hardship, safety or deterioration if presented by the applicant.
If the staff believes that the proposed work is not in conformance with the Standards and with your property's significant architectural features, the staff may be able to suggest alternatives that would satisfy your practical requirements while maintaining the architectural integrity of the property. The staff member also will provide guidance regarding materials and restoration or construction techniques, if needed.
Does the Landmarks Commission issue a permit?
The Commission does not issue a building permit but rather a Certificate of Appropriateness. If a building permit is required for the proposed work, the applicant must receive it from the Codes Administration. The Commission's decision is issued in the form of a Decision letter from the Landmarks Commission to the applicant. The Decision describes the proposed work and explains why it has been approved. Each Certificate expires after 12 months.
If an application is denied, the Landmarks Commission sends a decision letter to the applicant stating the reason why the proposed work was found to be inappropriate. The applicant may then choose to revise the proposal and submit a new application, or request a rehearing in accordance with the Landmarks ordinance. If a Certificate of Appropriateness is denied, no building or demolition permit may be issued, nor any other work requiring a Certificate of Appropriateness be undertaken for a period of 18 months from the date of denial.
The Landmarks ordinance requires that a public hearing be held for each Certificate of Appropriateness application. At least a majority of commissioners must vote in favor of an application in order for it to be approved. The Landmarks Commission hearings are held every month, usually on the fourth Friday of the month. Notice of each Landmarks Commission hearing and applications to be heard are published in the Daily Record 15 days before the hearing. Notice is sent to property owners within 185 feet of the subject property seven days before the hearing.
At the hearing, the City staff will present the application and make an assessment of the proposal as to whether it is in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation. The applicant is given the opportunity to explain why he or she believes that the application should be approved. The public also may comment on the proposed work. The applicant and the public may submit written statements before or during the hearing.
In many cases, the Commissioners discuss and vote on a Certificate of Appropriateness application on the same day that the public hearing is held. Sometimes, however, they may request additional information about the proposal before voting and may continue the matter until the next meeting.
The Commissioners will make decision on a Certificate of Appropriateness application based on drawings of a proposed project, public testimony, staff recommendation and whether the proposal is in conformance with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation.
After the Commissioners vote to approve an application, the applicant may be required to submit construction drawings in order for the approval to become final.
When the Commission reviews an application for a Certificate of Appropriateness, what factors does it consider?
The Landmarks Commission assesses the effects of the proposed work on the significant features of the landmark and the compatibility of the proposed changes with the building's appearance and character. The Commission considers the building's architectural, historical, cultural significance and its architectural style, as well as the proportions, materials, textures and colors of the existing and proposed designs, among other factors, and whether the proposed changes are in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation.
In a historic district, the Landmarks Commission also considers the effect of the proposed work on neighboring properties and on the special character of the district.
Does the Landmarks Commission restrict the height of proposed buildings in historic districts?
The Commission does not regulate the height or floor area of buildings, the size of rear yards or open spaces, obstruction of sunlight or air, density of population or the purposes for which buildings are used. These matters are subject to the Zoning Ordinance and the Building Code.
For more information about these issues, call the City Planning and Development Department at (816) 513-1407 or the Codes Administration at (816) 513-1500.
My project conforms to zoning regulations regarding height and bulk. Does that mean that the Landmarks Commission must approve my application?
No. The Landmarks Commission may find that a proposed project is inappropriate under the provisions of the Landmarks Ordinance even if the project complies with the Zoning Ordinance.
For example, even if a proposed addition to a designated property does not exceed zoning limits regarding height and bulk, the Landmarks Commission may deny a Certificate of Appropriateness for the addition if it finds that the design and materials would detract from the property's architectural significance in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation.
Will the Codes Administration issue a permit before the Landmarks Commission has approved my application?
No. The Codes Administration will not issue a permit in response to your application unless you have first received a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Landmarks Commission for the proposed work.
Master Plans: I plan to make a series of similar changes to my designated property over the next few years. Can I apply for a Certificate of Appropriateness for all of the work at one time?
Yes. You may submit an application for a "master plan" that includes a series of changes. A Certificate of Appropriateness, however, is only good for 12 months so it will be necessary to renew your Certificate of Appropriateness on an annual basis.
If you would like more information, call or write
City Hall, 16th Floor
414 East 12th St.
Kansas City, MO 64106
Phone (816) 513-2902
- How do I get a Certificate of Appropriateness?
If project is complex, arrange for an initial meeting with Landmarks staff to discuss the issues and proposed scope of work prior to filing your application. You may also want to consult the Urban Design Guidelines or the National Park Service Preservation Briefs for advise on the appropriate treatments or techniques for your historic building.
Submit an application for a CofA, including photographs of property, description of work proposed, any appropriate drawings, illustrations or product specifications, and the $25 application fee. When all of the materials have been received your application will be placed on the docket for the next available hearing.
Based on the information submitted, staff will prepare a report assessing the proposal's compliance with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation. Staff will contact the applicant if additional information is necessary.
Application is presented to the Landmarks Commission. Applicants are strongly urged to attend the hearing.
In most cases the Landmarks Commission will render a decision at the first hearing of an application. If additional information is required the Commission may continue the case to the next scheduled Landmarks Commission hearing.
If you would like more information, call or write the Landmarks Commission at City Hall, 16th Floor, 414 East 12th Street, Kansas City, MO 64106; Telephone: (816) 513-2902. Certificate of Appropriateness applications and the Landmarks Commission hearing schedule can also be downloaded.
- What is a preservation easement?
The donation of a preservation easement is becoming an increasingly popular means of preserving and rehabilitating historic buildings. Further, this donation is one of the few financial incentives available to owner/occupants of single family homes. A financial benefit accrues to the donor of an easement in the form of an income tax deduction.
The purpose of a preservation easement is to protect historically, culturally and architecturally significant buildings and their settings. Fundamentally, an easement is a restriction imposed by the owner on the exterior or interior of a property for the benefit of someone other than the owner. It is a legally enforceable agreement between the owner and the holder of the easement which restricts the modifications present and future owners may make to the property. For example, most residential properties are subject to utility easements which restrict the owner from building near service lines, thus assuring the utility (the easement holder) the ability to maintain its lines without undue expense.
What restrictions apply?
In conveying an easement intended to preserve the exterior of a structure, the property owner surrenders the right to make unrestricted alterations to the exterior of the building. Further, it obligates the owner to obtain design review for alterations or additional construction on the site and to maintain the exterior to historic specifications.
Title is not relinquished and all privileges and obligations of ownership, including the right to sell or lease the real estate remain vested in the owner. Alterations can be made by the donating owner or subsequent owners, but they are subject to review and approval by the holder of the preservation easement. Maintenance of the property remains the fee simple owner's responsibility.
What buildings are eligible for a tax advantage Preservation Easement?
The Internal Revenue Code permits a buildings owner to donate a "partial or full interest" in a historic property to a tax-exempt charitable organization and to receive a tax deduction for doing so. Specifically, sections 170(F) (3) (B) (iii) and 170(h) of the Code authorize a deduction for the contribution of a preservation easement provided the following conditions are met:
- The building is a "certified historic structure."
- The easement is donated to a "qualified organization," which is able to hold, monitor and enforce the easement.
- It is granted "in perpetuity" (forever).
A building is considered a "certified historic structure" if it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places or located in a locally designated Registered Historic District and certified by the Secretary of the Interior as contributing to the historic significance of the district.
Who can receive an Easement?
A "qualified organization" is defined as a publicly supported tax-exempt charity or unit of government that has historic preservation as one of its chartered purposes. The Landmarks Historic Trust Corporation (LHTC) is such an organization.
What types of Easements may be donated?
Facade Easement: A facade easement is used to protect the exterior of a property including walls, doors, windows, detailing, porches and roofs.
Interior Easement: An interior easement is similar to a facade easement, the only difference being an interior easement may include the "contents" of a space. There may be only a few key interior features meriting protection such as staircases, stained glass or fire place mantels. Or, the entire interior may be significant and merit protection.
Open Space Easement: An open space easement protects open spaces, scenic views and the surroundings of historically significant buildings.
Conservation Easement: A conservation easement is used to preserve, protect and maintain a property in close association with a historic building in its natural state and condition, and as a scenic area with open space to foster conservation of nature and wildlife and protect animals, birds and plant populations.
May I apply for an Easement after completion of work?
Yes. You may apply for an Easement during or after construction. It is strongly recommended that the donor obtain approval from LHTC before starting work to ensure all work meets the guidelines permitting LHTC to accept the easement. The LHTC has no obligation to accept an easement and can't guarantee in advance that any work will comply with the guidelines. All unapproved work is at the owner's risk.
How do I find out if my property and proposed alterations are eligible?
The Landmarks Historic Trust Corporation first determines whether a property is eligible for an easement. If the building is deemed eligible, LHTC will review the property using the Secretary of the Interior's "Standards for Historic Preservation Projects" and the Secretary of the Interior's Guidelines for applying those standards.
LHTC is concerned that all parts of the building fabric are treated appropriately, but it is particularly interested in the following items:
Cleaning and tuckpoint of brick, stone and terra cotta. The following treatments are not recommended: sand blasting and other abrasive cleaning methods; the indiscriminate application of water repellent coatings; repointing with mortar joints of a differing joint profile, texture or color; and using mortar with a high Portland cement content.
Retaining or duplicating existing window and door openings.
Exterior finishes -- determining original paint colors and finishes; repainting with colors based on the original hue and gloss.
Exterior ornamentation -- retaining and restoring as much original ornamentation as possible; appropriate use of substitute materials; and the restoration or duplication of exterior decorative elements such as porches, cornices, steps, etc.
The Landmarks Historic Trust Corporation may require repairs to the property or changes to inappropriate design, colors or materials as a condition of accepting an easement and as a condition of remaining in compliance with an easement.
How do I make an application?
To find out more about preservation easements or to obtain an application, call the LHTC office at (816) 513-2902. An application and submittal requirements will be provided to you.
Is a model easement document available?
A model easement document will be provided upon request. The final easement document must be approved by LHTC's general counsel. LHTC expressly reserves the right not to accept an easement.
What does it cost?
The donor will be required to secure and pay for appraisal services, his or her own legal counsel and LHTC’s general counsel fee.
Determination of the amount of the donation fee will be made by LHTC in order to cover expenses associated with review, monitoring and enforcement of the easement.
For income producing property, including multi-family residential buildings, containing three or more units, $12,000-$25,000; one and two family residential -- $1,500-$10,000; open space -- $10,000-$25,000; and interior easements -- $12,000-$24,000.
Applications are to be accompanied by a check for a deposit made payable to Landmarks Historic Trust Corporation of $500 for income producing properties ad $100 for one and two family residential buildings. The deposit is non-refundable and will be applied to the easement fee if accepted.
Applications submitted after Oct. 1 for approval prior to year end, are subject to a late application fee of $3,000 in addition to regular fees.
How is my Easement monitored?
The Landmarks Historic Trust Corporation will conduct an annual inspection and three quarterly "drive-by" inspections of the property and will take photographs to assure that no unapproved changes have been made to the facade or other elements covered in the easement and that there has been no deterioration of the property.
In cases where rehabilitation is under way, a building generally will be inspected once a month, depending on construction schedule. Among the items to be monitored are:
- Improvements specified in the Easement
- Substantive changes to the building
- Chronic conditions or severe deterioration
- Current insurance certificates
- Changes in ownership.
If substantive changes or severe deterioration are noted, LHTC will contact the owner by certified letter and request the owner to take corrective action as per the easement deed.
How do I make changes to my property after donating an Easement?
The donor is required to request approval from LHTC for any changes to that portion of the property covered by the Easement, including alteration, partial removal, construction, remodeling or other physical or structural changes, any change in color or surfacing. Criteria for reviewing proposed changes will include, but not be limited to, the secretary of the Interior's "Standards for Historic Preservation Projects" and the secretary of the Interior's guidelines for applying those standards, as amended.
What are the tax consequences?
It is the responsibility of the property owner to determine whether the easement donation meets the Internal Revenue Service code requirements for charitable donations, and LHTC shall not be responsible for the tax and other legal consequences resulting from the donation or from this document or any other documents or advice given or action taken by LHTC. LHTC does not give advice on IRS code.
You should be aware that the Treasury Department regulations require the subordination of mortgages to an easement.
If you would like more information, call or write
City Hall, 16th Floor
414 East 12th St.
Kansas City, MO 64106
Phone (816) 513-2902
- What financial incentives are available for historic buildings?
The primary financial resources currently available for historic buildings are a federal and a state tax credit for rehabilitation of a designated property and the dedication of a preservation easement (see "preservation easements").
What tax credits are available?
There is a 20% federal tax credit and a 25% Missouri tax credit.
What properties are eligible to receive the tax credit?
Properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places are eligible to receive tax credits. Kansas City Register properties also may be eligible for tax credits if they contribute to a historic district and that district has been certified by the National Park Service as eligible to receive tax credits. (This map will show properties that meet these criteria.)
Must the rehabilitation work meet certain guidelines?
Yes. All rehabilitation work should be certified in advance to be sure that it meets the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation. The staff of the State Historic Preservation Office in Jefferson City is responsible for this review and will work closely with you to help your project meet these guidelines.
Are there additional restrictions for using federal tax credits?
At this time only income-producing properties are eligible for the federal tax credits
Are there additional restrictions for using Missouri tax credits?
To be eligible for tax credits the cost of the rehabilitation work must exceed 50% of the basis in the property (the adjusted property value).
How do I find out if the work I am planning will qualify for tax credits?
You can call the Historic Preservation Program in Jefferson City. The Historic Preservation office in City Hall may be able to help you with some preliminary information and provide general guidelines for your scope of work.
Whom can I contact to get more information or an application for tax credits?
The Historic Preservation Program in Jefferson City is the primary liaison for tax credits. We strongly recommend you contact their staff early in your project to learn if you will qualify for tax credits.
Keep in mind the following to make your application for tax credits easier.
- Follow the process established by the SHPO and Department of Economic Development.
- Seek professional help in completing the application for credits. The process will advance much smoother.
- Contact the SHPO or your city's historic preservation (Landmarks) office to confirm that your project is listed on the National Register of Historic Places or in a local district that is certified to receive credits.
- Follow the historic preservation briefs on all work.
- Research the details, craftsmanship and colors for the period and style to which you are restoring. This will provide a wealth of knowledge and direction about which items should be restored and the process for doing so.
- Don't start the work first and apply for tax credits later.
- Don't change construction details after the approvals have been received without written consent from the SHPO office.
- Don't substitute historically inappropriate materials for historically appropriate materials (e.g. metal windows for wood windows). Use historically appropriate products.
- Don't wait until the last minute to submit your application for tax credits. The approval process will take time – expect 6-8 weeks. Build this time in to your schedule.
- Why is urban design important?
Urban design is about relationships and how a development can be organized to fit well into other development around it, and into the city. Urban design can be reflected in a single site, or can have citywide impacts. It can contribute to the uniqueness of the city, by highlighting features and focal points. Good urban design makes a new development feel like it belongs. With good urban design, a development may use similar materials, a similar height, or mass as buildings around it. It may incorporate functions that make people feel comfortable in it. This could include landscaping that provides shelter from the summer sun and winter winds, and that frames unique views. It might include pathways for pedestrians to get from one part of the site to another, and parking designed to accommodate cars, but not at the expense of people. In summary, urban design is important because:
- Sensitive urban design and development policies can enhance the livability and quality of life in Kansas City. Livability and quality of life have long been recognized as Kansas City assets and provide an important economic development advantage.
- Good urban design and quality development increase property values and therefore tax revenues.
- Good urban design and quality development encourage the private sector to reinvest in the city.
- Good urban design and quality development have been demanded by the public, who appear in increasing numbers at hearings before the City Plan Commission and the Board of Zoning Adjustment.