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Frequently Asked Questions: Planning

Am I required to restore my building or make it look old?

No. The Historic Preservation Ordinance  chapter 17.32, does not require you to restore your building or to make improvements when you don’t have any plans to do so.  Further, making a newer building look old is not required – in fact, it is contrary to the guidelines.  If you decide to improve your property or carry out repairs, the ordinance requires the project to be consistent with the overall architectural character of the building and the district as a whole.

Can aluminum, vinyl, cement board or other synthetic materials be used on buildings in the Historic District?

There is no specific rule prohibiting certain types of materials on buildings in the Historic District. This applies to siding, doors, windows, fences, or any other structure.

Decisions on the use of materials in the Historic District are made on a case-by-case basis by the Historic Preservation Commission. The Commission assesses each individual proposal against the standards in the Historic Preservation Ordinance for the purpose of issuing a "Certificate of Appropriateness" or COA.

How do I apply for a Certificate of Appropriateness and how long does it take?

To request a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) review, submit a COA application form. Information on the review process and submittal requirements are listed on the application form, located on the Certificate of Appropriateness web page.

A COA application can be submitted before a building permit is applied for, or at the same time. For larger projects, it is recommended to obtain COA approval before preparing construction drawings for building permit.

What changes to the building require Historic Preservation approval?

Approval of a Certificate of Appropriateness is required to obtain a building permit for any construction, alteration, repair, demolition or relocation that affects the exterior architectural appearance of any structure within a historic district, and for any structure that is designated a landmark.  A COA is not required for work that does not require a permit (such as painting).

Why do I need a COA for alterations to a non-historic, contemporary building?

Alterations to one building can affect nearby properties.  Therefore, proposed alterations are evaluated for compliance with the ordinance guidelines to determine if there will be any detrimental impact on adjacent properties.  Alterations should be compatible with and maintain the existing contemporary style.  The Historic Preservation Commission is required to apply the “maximum flexibility” allowed by the ordinance in its review of applications for structures that have little historic or architectural s