In 1980, Congress amended the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 to require each state to establish a procedure by which local governments may be certified to participate in the national framework of historic preservation programs. This requirement has become the "Certified Local Government (CLG) Program" in which many North Carolina counties and cities participate.
Since Congress created a preservation program for the United States in 1966, the national historic preservation program has operated as a decentralized partnership between the federal government and the states. The federal government established a program of identification, evaluation, and protection of historic properties and gave the states primary responsibility for carrying out this program. The success of that working relationship prompted Congress to expand the partnership to provide for participation by local governments.
Local governments and local commissions benefit from being CLGs in the following ways:
- The North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office must set aside at least 10 percent of the money it receives from the federal Historic Preservation Fund for CLGs. Each CLG in the state is eligible to compete for a portion of that money to be used as a matching grant for eligible survey, planning, pre-development, or development activities. This has become a significant advantage for CLGs in recent years as general grant funding from both federal and state sources has declined. In addition, only CLGs are generally able to direct federal Historic Preservation Fund grant money toward projects relating to physical restoration and stabilization.
- CLGs review all new nominations to the National Register of Historic Places for properties and districts within their boundaries. Consequently, CLGs share their local expertise with state and federal preservationists and gain a say in state and federal recognition of historic resources in their areas.
- CLGs are encouraged to expand the expertise of their commission members and must provide for their continuing education. The community benefits from the increased expertise and knowledge of preservationists at the local level, and CLG commission members benefit from increased opportunities and from the recognition of their communities.
In North Carolina, governments which qualify for certification must have an active and legally adequate historic preservation commission, and must meet the federal requirements for certification. The Historic Preservation Act amendments of 1980 state that a local government must:
- Enforce appropriate state or local legislation for the designation and protection of historic properties.
- Establish an adequate and qualified historic preservation review commission.
- Maintain a system for the survey and inventory of historic properties compatible with the statewide survey.
- Provide for adequate public participation in the local historic preservation program, including the process of recommending properties to the National Register of Historic Places.
- Satisfactorily perform responsibilities delegated to it under the 1980 Act.
For a general overview, visit Guidelines for North Carolina's Certified Local Government Program (2003).