The City of Laurel Historic District Commission (HDC) was established in 1975 to promote the preservation of Laurel's historic sites and buildings in order to safeguard the heritage of the City's built environment. The Commission's authority is derived from the Land Use Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland and Article I, Division 13 of the City of Laurel Unified Land Development Code. To that end, the Commission is empowered to hold public hearings for the purpose of reviewing architectural and design elements for buildings in the Historic District and granting certificates of approval in accordance with the City of Laurel Historic District Commission Design Guidelines (Art. I, Div. 14, City of Laurel Land Development Code).
The Historic District
The City of Laurel Historic District consists of seven individual but contiguous districts as established in Sec. 11-2 of the City of Laurel Municipal Code. Located in the northernmost part of the City, all of these districts fall under the design review authority of the Historic District Commission.
Historic District Survey
Any change to a structure 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 which 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. A 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 which visually conveys: (1) the building or site as it presently exists and (2) as it will appear after the proposed changes.
Additions must meet all setback 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 Board of Appeals is required
Although the Commission is the final determinant in the issuance of a HDC Certificate of Approval, their decision is rendered in the context of the Historic District Commission Design Guidelines, as listed in Art. I, Div. 14 of the Unified Land Development Code. These guidelines are intended to allow for variety of choice for individual projects yet still maintain the integrity of the Historic District as a whole.
Historic District Commission Tax Credit
The City of Laurel offers a tax credit for approved and qualifying preservation and restoration projects located in the Historic District. The amount of the tax credit is ten percent (10%) of the total expense of the approved work, which must conform with the criteria as established by the HDC Certificate of Approval. A HDC Tax Credit Application must be obtained in order to receive a tax credit. For more information contact the Economic and Community Development Department.
The Commission normally meets monthly at the Laurel Municipal Center located at 8103 Sandy Spring Road.
The Public is welcome and encouraged to attend.
Please check the deadline dates link below or with our staff, if you have a certificate application you would like to submit for the next Historic District Commission meeting.