For Residents

Resources for Homeowners

We’ve compiled some great resources for all of those who call Seminary Ridge “home.” If you have any questions or need additional information on these topics or others, please feel free to contact us!


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Protection Area District

Click the image above to view the the larger map

Previously parts of the community were noted in the 1992 “City-wide Architectural Survey and Historic Preservation Plan” by John Bryan. The plan is commonly referred to as the Bryan Survey. In that 1992 survey the area was recommended for Architectural Conservation District. Portions of the Seminary Ridge Neighborhood became a local historic district in February 2013. Due to the significant amount of original features still present on the dwellings, Seminary Ridge received the highest level of designation, Architectural Conservation District. The district is comprised of approximately 168 properties, consisting of mostly bungalows and vernacular residences.

Years later, after discovering the difficulty of being allowed to make certain improvements to their homes, several residents expressed concern that the regulations were too restrictive, not allowing certain changes, such as replacing old windows with new energy efficient windows or replacing wood siding with cement fiber siding. Conversations with Councilman Sam Davis and city planners revealed the need that a change would have to come from the neighborhood and that it would need to start with the neighborhood association.

Several residents started surveying the neighborhood within the Seminary Ridge boundaries and obtained the following information: There are approximately 168 properties in the Seminary Ridge Historic District. Not all of the properties within the Seminary Ridge Neighborhood boundaries are included in the boundary lines for the historic district. The Lutheran Seminary owns 12 properties, the Lutheran Church owns 3, and the City of Columbia owns at least two of the properties. Several other property owners own more than one property, meaning that at least 30 properties are owned by 7 owners giving us around 150 property owners or less. 55 properties have vinyl windows, 11 properties have aluminum or steel windows, 93 have wood. 4 have aluminum siding, 4 have asbestos siding, 86 have brick, 2 (at least) have brick/asbestos, 5 (at least) have brick/vinyl, 3 are a combination of brick and wood, 1 is steel, 1 has a hardboard composite siding, 34 have vinyl siding, 17 have mostly wood siding. 1 house is made of block.

Approximately 35% of residential properties already had energy efficient windows.

There were 41 active rental properties, at least 8 were vacant at the time this was written (early 2018). There are 4 historic landmarks identified by the City of Columbia in Eau Claire: Ensor-Keenan House, Eau Claire Town Hall, The Lutheran Seminary, and the Survey Publishing Building. Only the Ensor-Keenan House is within the borders of the Seminary Ridge historic district. None of the other residential properties meet the requirements to be designated on the Historic Register.

A petition was circulated and several property owners gathered the signatures of over 60 neighbors that were interested in repealing the historic overlay from our neighborhood. Discussions were started with the SRNA in the fall of 2017 and at the November meeting a vote was taken to remove the Architectural Conservation designation and study the possibility of adopting a less restrictive overlay such as a Protection Area overlay. City planners were notified and they met with members of the SRNA Executive Committee to lay out the necessary steps.

Residents and property owners turned out to attend a city led meeting on February 1, 2018, at which the planners gave them information on the available options. The neighborhood association again met on February 20th to discuss our options and affirm our previous motion to remove the current zoning overlay and replace it with a Protection Area overlay with a minimum number of restrictions. The city planners, led by Amy Moore, again met with neighbors on March 1st and March 6th to workout an acceptable plan. Notifications were mailed out for the February and March meetings with the city planners, as well as being circulated via email and facebook. At a meeting on March13th, residents and property owners overwhelmingly affirmed that plan and voted to accept the guidelines as presented. The Protection Area overlay offered the best of both worlds, Seminary Ridge would remain a historic district, allowing residents to still take advantage of the Bailey Bill, and property owners would be allowed to make upgrades to their homes that had previously not been allowed.

Residents and property owners from the Seminary Ridge neighborhood attended and spoke at a Planning Commission meeting on April 9th where the commissioners voted to approved the proposed changes. They again attended and spoke a special called DDRC meeting on April 30th where the commission voted to recommend the zoning changes to city council.

Signs were posted throughout the neighborhood for the Planning Commission meeting on April 9th, the DDRC meeting on April 30th, and the City Council Zoning meeting on May 15th. Every resident and property owner had the opportunity to offer their opinions about the changes, and many of them did, with the vast majority being in favor.

Columbia City Council approved those recommendations in May and again in June of 2018.

Click here to view the Protection Area Guidelines adopted in June of 2018. These new guidelines allow property owners to bring their homes up to newer standards and yet guide development in ways that maintain the character of the Seminary Ridge Neighborhood and discourage those elements which may threaten the historical integrity and quality craftsmanship of structures in the area.

For more information about the Seminary Ridge Protection Area Historic District and the Bailey Bill, visit our information page here!

Bailey Bill Tax Abatement

Some homes in the Seminary Ridge Protection Area Historic District also qualify for the Bailey Bill tax abatement.

Homeowners that invest at least 20% of the current assessed value of the property (approved projects) will have their City taxes remain at the pre-habilitated rate for 20 years.

For example, if a home currently assessed for $90,000 receives Bailey Bill-approved renovations (new roof, plumbing, electrical improvements) in the amount of $18,000, City taxes will remain based on $90,000 for 20 years.

For more information about the Seminary Ridge Protection Area Historic District and the Bailey Bill, visit our information page here!

For more information, please view the Bailey Bill Application and be sure to call (803)545-3328 to contact the City of Columbia Planning Department EARLY when considering the Bailey Bill tax abatement.