The major responsibility of the Historic Preservation Commission is to
identify and actively encourage the conservation of the City of Bellingham's
historic resources by initiating and maintaining a register of historic
places and reviewing proposed changes to register properties; to raise
community awareness of the City's history and historic resources; and to
serve as the City's primary resource in matters of history, historic
planning, and preservation. They also review and make recommendations on
development proposals located in specified historic design review districts.
The duties of the Commission are more specifically listed in the Historic
Preservation Ordinance, Bellingham Municipal Code Chapter 17.90 and Design
Review, Bellingham Municipal Code Chapter 20.25.
The Commission determines whether nominated structures should be
added to the Bellingham Register of Historic Places and make
recommendations on State and National Register nominations. They review
proposed alterations to buildings on the Bellingham Register for
consistency with historic preservation standards. They also may approve
property tax reductions for improvements to Bellingham Register
buildings under the Special Valuation program authorized by State law.
Certain development projects in specified design review districts, such
as the Fairhaven Design Review District, are reviewed by the Commission for
consistency with applicable design standards. Their recommendation is
provided to the Planning Director for a final decision.
The Commission may also conduct a variety of research and education
activities to promote historic preservation.
The Commission has two regular meetings per month, although meetings
are cancelled if there are no agenda items. Meetings last approximately
one to two hours. Time spent outside of meetings is required to review
applications and staff reports for proposals requiring Commission
The Commission consists of nine members appointed by the Mayor and
confirmed by the City Council. One member is appointed from the
Municipal Arts Commission. Terms are three years and members may be
reappointed. Members must also have lived in Bellingham for at least
Commission members must have a demonstrated interest and competence in
historic preservation. The Commission must include at least four
professionals who have experience in identifying, evaluating, and protecting
historic resources and are selected from among the disciplines of
architecture, history, architectural history, planning, archaeology,
folklore, cultural anthropology, curation, conservation, landscape
architecture, or related disciplines.