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Failure to Comply with Historic Preservation Law Can Cause Major Delays for your Bank

OFIS Commissioner Linda A. Watters
September 2004

After learning about a number of Michigan banks that experienced major delays with main office or branch construction projects, OFIS Commissioner Linda A. Watters recently advised Michigan state chartered institutions to brush up on the requirements of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. Failure to follow these requirements has required some institutions to get special clearance all the way from Washington D.C., resulting in substantial-and costly-construction delays.

The Act and its implementing regulations require banks to ensure that the property they proposed to use is not eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. This would include properties that have an historic building or are located in an historic district.

You should be aware that obtaining a building permit for the property from a city, county or township-by itself-in no way satisfies the requirements of the Historic Preservation Act or regulations.

The first step toward compliance involves verification that a property or building is not currently on the National Register. Bankers should consult with the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office before any alteration of the property or site (alteration includes demolition of buildings, site excavation, or building construction). Ideally, the consultation would take place as soon as a branch application is contemplated, but the consultation does not have to precede submission of an application.

"While failure to comply with these requirements can result in stop work orders, proper planning can prevent this from even becoming an issue," noted Commissioner Watters. "I urge all bankers thinking about opening or relocating an office to contact the State Historic Preservation office early in order to assure their plans comply with the Historic Preservation Act and to avoid potentially costly delays."

Bankers can get more information about the National Historic Preservation Act and branch application requirements from their primary federal regulators. The Michigan State Historic Preservation Office is part of the Department of History, Arts and Libraries. Information about the Office is available

  • on the Web at,1607 ,7-160-17445_19273_19318---,00.html, (outdated link)
  • by sending an e-mail to ,
  • by calling (517) 373-1630, or
  • by writing to:

    Michigan State Historic Preservation Office
    Michigan Historical Center
    P.O. Box 30740
    702 W. Kalamazoo St.
    Lansing, MI 48909-8240