Rules Governing Changes To Buildings On Ellensburg's Landmarks Register

The Ellensburg City Code (ECC) has sections pertaining to property owners in the historic district. ECC 15.280 states that the Landmarks and Design Commission, in addition to reviewing applications for Special Valuation for Historic Properties, shall review changes to landmarks register properties.

PB-25 Landmark Register Properties

ECC 15.280.090 states:

  1. No person shall alter, repair, enlarge, newly construct, relocate, or demolish any registered landmark, or any property located within a landmark district, nor install any exterior sign pursuant to subsection (A)(2) of this section, without review by the Landmarks and Design Commission and approval of a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA).
  2. This review shall apply to all exterior features of the property visible from a public right-of-way. This review applies whether or not a permit from the city of Ellensburg is required.
  3. Review of alterations to Ellensburg landmarks register properties under this chapter is in lieu of design review required for both major and minor projects and sign review per ECC 15.210.050(B).

This process of design review, to quote the design standards booklet, “is a tool intended to ensure that new development in our community enhances the visual quality and identity of Ellensburg. [It] encourages new construction that respects the traditions of the past and promotes sensitive rehabilitation of older buildings in our historic districts.” Of critical importance is the Downtown Historic District is the preservation of as much of the original fabric of historic structures as possible. Repair of historic elements is preferred over replacement of them. Where the latter is necessary, compatible elements are crucial in order to protect and preserve the historic look and feel of buildings and protect the integrity of our historic districts.

In addition, while the Code does not regulate interiors, building owners are encouraged to retain, restore and maintain as much of the original interiors of historic structures as possible. The craftsmanship and materials used in many of these fine old buildings is often of a very high quality and it can be very cost-effective to restore interiors rather than replace them. Resources for effectively doing this are available from the Community Development Department. Remember, as noted above, tax credits are available for this and other types of work on historic structures, if done within the approved guidelines.

Building owners should contact the Senior Planner - Historic Preservation in the Community Development Department of the City of Ellensburg for any questions relating to historic preservation or historic structures and before any work is done on historic structures (as per ECC 15.280). The department has many useful resources, including copies of the “Design Standards of the City of Ellensburg” for the use of the public. Applications for proposed work to the exteriors of historic buildings are also available. Staff stands ready to help in all aspects of owners’ maintenance and preservation of buildings in Ellensburg’s historic districts.