Recently, the topic of the relationship of the German Village Society and the German Village Commission came up, and I recalled reading a fine summary of their roles written in the German Village Society newsletter over 40 years ago. The following are excerpts of the explanation:

July 1972: “The German Village Society and The German Village Commission Have Distinct Functions”

“Both Society members and the general public often confuse the composition and functions of The German Village Society and The German Village Commission. Though both organizations are important to the continued success of the German Village concept, their areas of concern are, for the most part, distinct and separate. THE GERMAN VILLAGE SOCIETY was incorporated June 18, 1960, as a non-profit corporation for the purpose of encouraging the preservation and restoration of the properties in the German Village area of Columbus. The Society is not a part of the City Government, nor is it charged with any of the duties or responsibilities of the City Government. The Society does not buy, sell or restore properties, with the exception of the Office and the Meeting Haus, which the Society purchased and restored. In short, the Society is an organization of individuals and businesses interested in German Village.”

“THE GERMAN VILLAGE COMMISSION was formed July 25, 1960 as part of the Columbus City Government. The Commission is charged with the responsibility of enforcing the German Village Code, a control ordinance aimed at maintaining the architectural integrity of the German Village area. In practice, plans for exterior changes on German Village buildings must be submitted to the Commission for approval. Approval, called “A Certificate of Appropriateness” usually is a prerequisite for a building permit. Enforcement of the Code is the responsibility of the Department of Building Regulations. THE GERMAN VILLAGE Commission also hears requests for zoning variances. It has no power to grant or deny them but does make recommendations to the Zoning Adjustment Board. In practice, the ZAB usually acts according to the recommendations of the Commission. Decisions of the ZAB can be appealed to City Council.”

“EVERYONE SHOULD realize that the continued success of the German Village concept depends on the active participation of Society members, German Village residents and others in the affairs of both the Society and the Commission.”

Back to 2014, the German Village Commission is now part of the City of Columbus, Department of Development / Planning Division / Historic Preservation, and the ZAB is now Building and Zoning Services. If you need help with any of these services, a good place to start is to call the GVS office and speak to our own Historic Preservation Advocate, Sarah Marsom.

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