Breaking News

Bills introduced in December 2015 in the Wisconsin Assembly, AB568, and in the Wisconsin Senate, SB445, would drastically affect all historic preservation programs in Wisconsin.

The identically-worded bills would prohibit Wisconsin counties, towns, and cities from designating properties or districts as historically significant without the consent of “the owner”, and would provide that those governmental entities “may not require or prohibit any action by an owner of a property related to the preservation of special character, historic or aesthetic interest, or any other significant value of the property without the consent of the owner.”

If enacted, the bills will affect the approximately 170 Wisconsin communities that have historic preservation ordinances. In the case of the 68 Certified Local Governments in the state, the legislation would invalidate the local provisions that disallow owner consent or owner opt-out provisions under the regulations enforced by the State Historic Preservation Office.

Officers of WAHPC have spoken out against the historic preservation provisions of these bills, in collaboration with historic preservation advocates and local historians across the state.

The bills are moving very rapidly. For up-to-the-minute information, search AB568 and SB445 on the Wisconsin Legislature’s web site,

On January 13, 2016 bill authors introduced a Substitute Amendment, AB568 ASA-1,that made many changes to the original Assembly bill, including a softening of the historic preservation provisions. Questions linger, including the overall policy question of depriving local control. The Substitute Amendment and the full bill are expected to be voted on by the Assembly Committee on Housing and Real Estate on January 21, 2016.