The Commission meets the 1st Saturday of each month at the Visitor’s Center at 9:15 AM. It also meets mid-month on a Wednesday at 5:30 PM for the months of March-November. Meetings generally last for 60-90 minutes. All meetings are open to
Items for discussion include:
- Design reviews. Design reviews occur when the Commission considers plans for exterior work on a structure in any of the 3 historic districts. We also review proposals for signs in the Commercial Historic District and for fences and outbuildings in all 3 districts. The Commission may either issue a Certificate of Appropriateness or a Certificate of No Material Effect. A Certificate of Appropriateness is issued if the planned work is generally consistent with the structure’s historic nature. A Certificate of No Material Effect is issued if the proposed change is inconsequential to historic style. Denial of a certificate is rare, as most building owners are open to, and often welcoming of, ideas about how to best preserve the historic nature of their property.
- Workshops regarding historic preservation, history of structures in the city, or award ceremonies for noteworthy renovation projects in Mount Vernon
- Historical tours for self-education
- Events of interest in nearby municipalities and the state
- Matters related to the HPC’s archives and website
Who are Historic Preservation Commissioners?
Historic Preservation Commissioners are members of the community who have an interest in the esthetics and preservation of historic structures and are volunteering their time to further these interests in Mount Vernon. The Commission is required to
have representation from at least one owner in each of the historic districts. Individuals who agree to serve as Commissioners should be those who have sufficient time and willingness to regularly attend meetings. When there is an opening on the Commission, applications are solicited, and a candidate is recommended by the Commission for City Council approval and appointment by Mount Vernon’s Mayor.
A Commissioner who anticipates that a health, work, or personal situation is likely to prevent their attendance from meetings for a period of time should request a leave of absence from the Commission. Individuals who are interested in historic preservation can volunteer for the Commission.
How to Become a Commissioner
To serve on the Mount Vernon Historic Preservation Commission (MVHPC) one must be a resident of the City of Mt. Vernon. In addition, commissioners need to have an interest or expertise in historic preservation, history, architectural history, architecture, or related fields.
Anyone who is interested in being a Commissioner can apply at City Hall. Appointments are made by the Mayor and are based on meeting the requirements and having a vacancy currently open. The appointments run for three years.
Continuing Education Requirements
Because Mount Vernon’s HPC has regulatory responsibilities, Commissioners are required to complete state-approved continuing education once in every two-year period. Continuing education opportunities are interesting and easily available. Funds are available through the HPC budget to assist with the costs of attendance at events away from Mount Vernon.
Among the continuing education opportunities in Iowa are:
- The Preserve Iowa Summit. This annual conference is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and is a good opportunity to learn about preservation and meet Commissioners from other communities.
- State-sanctioned workshops and conferences that qualify for continuing education credit.
- The National Park Service offers online training modules that can be completed at leisure in your home. They are available at: https://www.nps.gov/tps/education/online-training.htm. Especially recommended are modules entitled “Illustrated Rehabilitation Guidelines,” “Rehab Yes and Nos,” “Walk Through Historic Buildings,” and “Working on the Past in Local Historic District.”
- Leah Rogers, chair
- Guy Booth
- Ed Sauter
- Hugh Lifson
- Janet Budack
- Susan Hargus
- Mary Evans
- Caroline Kelly
- Suzette Astley
- Peter Ault
- Grace Rowray
- Dick Thomas, emeritus