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:
- The building or site as it presently exists
- 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
How to Apply
Apply in one of the following ways:
- Online with the Portal Link
- Anyone wishing to apply online for an HDC application with the City of Laurel must create an online account. Please visit our ePermits page for more information and to access the RAP permits ePortal to create your account.
- In the portal, be sure to include a copy of the actual HDC application form with your online submittal in the attachments section, along with photos of your project showing current and requested new material, failure to do so could result in a delay in review from the commission to receive approval.
By emailing the Historic District Commission
- In Person
Drop off completed and signed application and supporting documents / photos in the drop box at:
8103 Sandy Spring Road
Laurel, MD 20707
Mail in your application to:
Attn: Historic District Commission
8103 Sandy Spring Road
Laurel, MD 20707
Every application must be accompanied by the appropriate plans, rendering, statements, and other documents. If the applicant is not the owner of the property in question, a letter from the property owner acknowledging and consenting to the actions proposed must be provided with the application.
- Appointment Only - For an in-person meeting, please call the Historic District Coordinator to schedule an appointment at 301-725-5300, ext. 2303.
- All exterior work seen from the public right of way needs commission review and approval. If you live or work in the Historic District, any exterior work needs approval.
It's considered "in-kind" only if you meet all of these requirements:
- The color is the same as existing
- The style is the same as existing
- The material is the same as existing
Must meet all setbacks and lot coverage requirements based on the property's zoning if the addition increases the gross floor area of the residence by 50% or more, a Special Exception from the Planning Commission and Board of Appeals is required, view the Process Map for Special Exception in HDC (PDF) for a chart of that process. Please contact staff for more information.
First, check that the tree is seen from a public right-of-way, if it is not, you do not need HDC approval however, if it is you will need approval.
Next, check the Champion Tree list to see if your tree is listed (those trees are more protected). If it is not and you have an arborist report stating the tree is dying, dead or diseased, fill out an application and provide it to staff to approve the request (no night meeting required). It will need to be detailed such as if the tree has a disease, what disease does it have? Or if the tree is dead, why is it dead? If you cannot provide an arborist report you will need to fill out an application and attend a night meeting for approval through the Historic District Commission. If the tree is listed on the Champion Tree list you will need HDC approval through a night meeting, with no exceptions!
The Commission will typically suggest a new tree is planted on the property, but not necessarily in the same spot where the tree is removed. If you remove a tree that needed HDC approval but did not receive approval, you could be fined.
- Application and Approval Process (PDF)
- HDC Application (PDF)
- HDC Application in Spanish 2018 (PDF)
- HDC Approved Colors - Historical Color Collection (PDF)
- HDC Approved Tree List (PDF)
- HDC Checklist (PDF)
- HDC Packet (PDF)
- Historic District Certification Application Online Fillable Form (PDF)
- Historic District Design Guidelines (PDF)
- Historic District Helpful Information (PDF)
- Historic District Window Questionnaire (PDF)
- Maryland Residential Property Disclosure and Disclaimer Statement (PDF)
- New Business on Main Street Flyer (PDF)
- PG County Permeable Pavement Guidelines (PDF)
- Process Map for Special Exception in HDC (PDF)