Skip to Content
Menu Toggle

What does historic preservation entail?

Historic preservation refers to protecting, conserving, and maintaining sites, structures, and objects with historical, cultural, or architectural significance. In the context of environmental law in Florida, historic preservation aims to safeguard the state’s cultural heritage while ensuring that environmental changes do not negatively impact these valuable resources.

Need help regarding environmental due diligence, permitting, mitigation, or compliance? Schedule your consultation today with a top environmental law attorney.

In Florida, which laws and regulations apply to historic preservation?

In Florida, several laws and regulations address historic preservation, including state and federal statutes, codes, and secondary sources.

At the state level, The Florida Historical Resources Act provides the legal framework for historic preservation in Florida, outlining the responsibilities of the Division of Historical Resources and the processes for designating landmark sites and properties. Under this act, the state can designate properties as historically significant, ensuring their protection from demolition or alteration.

Additionally, Florida Administrative Code, Rule 1A-46: establishes the Florida Master Site File, a database of known historical and archaeological sites in the state. It also outlines the procedures for submitting site information and accessing the database.

On the federal level, the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966: mandates that federal agencies consider the effects of their actions on historic properties and work with state and local governments to protect these resources. Section 106 of the NHPA outlines federal agencies’ procedures to ensure their actions do not adversely affect historic properties.

What are common issues regarding historic preservation that lead to litigation?

The following issues are among the most common in actions regarding historic preservation in environmental law matters:

  • Conflicting land use: Disagreements often arise when proposed development projects impact historic properties and parties disagree on balancing the need for economic growth with preservation efforts.
  • Insufficient preservation measures: Plaintiffs may claim that developers, property owners, or government agencies failed to adequately protect historic properties, resulting in damage or loss of cultural heritage.
  • Improper designation of historic properties: Litigation may ensue if parties contest the designation of a site as historic, arguing that it does not meet the necessary criteria or that the designation improperly restricts property rights.
  • Non-compliance with preservation laws and regulations: Disputes may occur if developers, property owners, or government agencies fail to comply with applicable historic preservation laws, such as the National Historic Preservation Act or Florida Historical Resources Act.
  • Inadequate consultation or public participation: Plaintiffs may argue that decision-makers did not adequately consult stakeholders or allow sufficient public participation during the review and approval process for projects impacting historic properties.

When a set of facts is appropriate for legal intervention, there are many paths a claimant may take. We are value-based attorneys at Jimerson Birr, which means we look at each action with our clients from the point of view of costs and benefits while reducing liability. Then, based on our client’s objectives, we chart a path to seek appropriate remedies.

To determine whether your unique situation may necessitate litigation, please contact our office to set up your initial consultation.

What claims about historic preservation do plaintiffs generally bring to court, and what are common legal defenses to those claims?

Common claims that real estate developers and businesses face related to historic preservation include the following:

  • Violation of federal or state preservation laws, such as the National Historic Preservation Act or Florida Historical Resources Act
  • Breach of a contract or fiduciary duty in managing historic properties
  • Negligence in causing damage to historic resources
  • Public or private nuisance related to the impact of development on historic properties

Real estate developers and businesses may raise common legal defenses against claims related to historic preservation, including:

  • Compliance with applicable laws: Defendants may argue that their actions complied with all relevant preservation laws and regulations.
  • Lack of standing: Defendants may challenge the plaintiff’s right to sue, asserting that the plaintiff lacks a sufficient interest in the outcome of the case.
  • Statute of limitations: Defendants may contend that the plaintiff’s claim is time-barred if not filed within the applicable statutory period.
  • Sovereign immunity: Government agencies may assert immunity from certain claims, arguing that they cannot be held liable for actions taken in their official capacity.
  • Economic necessity: Defendants may argue that the proposed development or alteration of historic properties is necessary for economic growth, job creation, or public welfare and that such benefits outweigh the need for preservation.

Please contact our office to set up your initial consultation to see what actions or defenses may be available for your unique situation.

What are effective measures to minimize the risk of litigation over historic preservation?

To successfully mitigate the risk of litigation over historic preservation in environmental law matters, consider these measures:

  • Early consultation with stakeholders: Engage local communities, preservation agencies, and other interested parties early in the planning process to address concerns and collaborate on solutions.
  • Compliance with applicable laws and regulations: Familiarize yourself with relevant federal and state preservation laws, such as the National Historic Preservation Act or Florida Historical Resources Act, and ensure adherence to all requirements.
  • Conduct thorough research: Assess the potential impact of a project on historic properties by conducting research and consulting experts to identify any areas of concern.
  • Adopt best practices: Implement best practices in preservation, including utilizing appropriate materials and techniques to minimize damage to historic properties.
  • Obtain necessary permits and approvals: Secure all required permits and approvals before initiating any work on historic properties, ensuring that the project meets legal standards and guidelines.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How can a property be designated as a historic site in Florida?

In Florida, properties can be designated as local, state, or federal historic sites. Local governments may establish historic preservation ordinances to designate historic properties, while the Florida Division of Historical Resources administers the Florida Main Street program and the Florida Historical Marker program. At the federal level, properties can be listed on the National Register of Historic Places through a nomination process.

  1. What incentives are available for historic preservation projects in Florida?

Various incentives exist to support historic preservation projects in Florida, including federal and state historic tax credits, grants from the Florida Division of Historical Resources, and local government incentives such as property tax exemptions and zoning incentives for adaptive reuse projects.

  1. Can a property owner object to the historic designation of their property?

Property owners may have the right to object to the historic designation of their property during the designation process. For example, in Florida, local historic preservation ordinances often allow property owners to voice their objections at public hearings or in writing. Additionally, federal regulations allow property owners to object to the listing of their property on the National Register of Historic Places, which may prevent the listing if a majority of property owners object.

Have more questions about an environmental law-related situation?

Crucially, this overview of historic preservation does not begin to cover all the laws implicated by this issue or the factors that may compel the application of such laws. Every case is unique, and the laws can produce different outcomes depending on the individual circumstances.

Jimerson Birr attorneys guide our clients to help make informed decisions while ensuring their rights are respected and protected. Our lawyers are highly trained and experienced in the nuances of the law, so they can accurately interpret statutes and case law and holistically prepare individuals or companies for their legal endeavors. Through this intense personal investment and advocacy, our lawyers will help resolve the issue’s complicated legal problems efficiently and effectively.

Having a Jimerson Birr attorney on your side means securing a team of seasoned, multi-dimensional, cross-functional legal professionals. Whether it is a transaction, an operational issue, a regulatory challenge, or a contested legal predicament that may require court intervention, we remain tireless advocates at every step. Being a value-added law firm means putting the client at the forefront of everything we do. We use our experience to help our clients navigate even the most complex problems and come out the other side triumphant.

If you want to understand your case, the merits of your claim or defense, potential monetary awards, or the amount of exposure you face, you should speak with a qualified Jimerson Birr lawyer. Our experienced team of attorneys is here to help. Call Jimerson Birr at (904) 389-0050 or use the contact form to schedule a consultation.

Jimerson Customer Service

We live by our 7 Superior Service Commitments

  • Conferring Client-Defined Value
  • Efficient and Cost-Effective
  • Accessibility
  • Delivering an Experience While Delivering Results
  • Meaningful and Enduring Partnership
  • Exceptional Communication Based Upon Listening
  • Accountability to Goals
Learn more
Jimersonfirm Awards
Jimersonfirm Awards
Jimersonfirm Awards
Jimersonfirm Awards
Jimersonfirm Awards
Jimersonfirm Awards
Jimersonfirm Awards
we’re here to help

Contact Us

Jimerson Birr