How to Apply for a Change to Structure or Property in the Historic District

What it Means to Own a Historic District Property

If you plan to make any exterior changes to your property, you will need to apply for a Certificate of Approval from the preservation commission. And, the proposed changes will need to comply with certain guidelines. Your rehabilitation project could be eligible for certain tax credits at a state level.

The Approval Procedure

Any change to a structure or property located in the Historic District which is visible from a public right-of-way falls under the purview of the Historic District Commission's design review. This can range from something as simple as repainting a house, installing a fence, or replacing windows to complex projects such as residential additions, posting a sign on Main Street, or building demolitions. Proposed projects that the Commission deems as meeting the criteria of the Design Guidelines are issued a Certificate of Approval, indicating that work may proceed contingent on obtaining any necessary permits. Failure to obtain a Historic District Commission Certificate of Approval can lead to a referral to Code Enforcement Officers for issuance of a municipal infraction.

While certain projects may be approved by staff (i.e. "in-Kind" replacements), most must be presented before the Commission during a public hearing. An HDC Certificate of Approval Application must be submitted to the Department of Economic and Community Development for all proposed projects. In addition to the application, supporting documents and/or items must be submitted that visually convey:

  1. The building or site as it presently exists
  2. As it will appear after the proposed changes

To get on the agenda for a Commission meeting for approval, you must meet the deadline (which is typically a month before). You can check with the staff or the deadline dates listed in the link below. Even staff approvals can still take 7 to 10 business days to process but are usually done quicker. Additionally, if the work for an approved certificate has not commenced within twelve months of the date of approval, the certificate is void, unless a renewal request is received and granted by the Commission. Please be as detailed as possible in your application for the work description. In the event of an emergency repair or replacement being requested, an application with photos will still need to be submitted, additionally, an inspection would need to be made by staff before the approval can be granted.

Next HDC Meeting & Deadline

  • The next historic district hearing is December 20, 2022, at 6 pm.
  • The hard deadline to apply for the next hearing is November 25, 2022, by 5 pm.
  • Last-minute changes to your application will not be accepted and may delay when your application is reviewed.

Here is a list of what you need to apply:

  • A completed and signed HDC Application
  • Current photo or photos of the property
  • Site plan of property (needed for driveways, fences, sheds, additions, etc.)
  • Structural drawings (needed for new accessory structures such as sheds, garages, carports, porches, etc.
  • Architectural drawings (typically needed for new buildings or additions)
  • Photo of material samples (for replacement siding, paint, shutters, doors, roof shingles, wood, etc.)
  • A completed window questionnaire (for replacement windows)
  • A letter stating the tree is dying or diseased from a tree arborist (for tree removal)
  • A sign rendering showing colors and size (for new sign requests from Commercial properties)
  • Owner permission letter (if you are not the owner of the property)
  • If you are unsure what you need to submit, please contact staff at 301-725-5300, ext. 2303