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Certificate of Appropriateness (COA)

Before the City can issue a building permit for exterior changes to buildings within a Historic District or Landmark Site, the St. Charles Zoning Ordinance requires the Historic Preservation Commission to review the proposed work and issue a Certificate of Appropriateness” (also known as a “COA”).

When & Why To Apply:

  • A COA approval and building permit are required for both big construction projects (new buildings, demolition, building or porch additions) and smaller renovation projects (re-roofing, siding, window or door replacement, installation of signs or fences).
  • Painting or other maintenance work that does not require a building permit does not require a COA approval.
  • Property owners and contractors are advised to apply for a COA in advance of finalizing construction drawings or ordering any construction materials. Building permits that require a COA review cannot be issued “over the counter” at the time of application. A separate COA application must be filed for review.
  • A COA application for certain types of projects may be review and approved administratively by City Staff without being presented to the Historic Preservation Commission. For a list of these projects, see the COA Administrative Approval List.  

Review Criteria:

The Historic Preservation Commission uses ordinance criteria to assess the effect of each project on the historic character of a specific building or site. The Zoning Ordinance directs the Commission to follow the Secretary of the Interior Standards for Rehabilitation, a list of guiding principles developed by the federal government to be interpreted and applied locally by the Commission.
The review criteria, along with other information regarding a COA review, can be found in the COA Application form.
The complete Historic Preservation Ordinance can be viewed in the City Codebook.

The Commission has also developed Design Guidelines documents to assist property owners with planning projects.

Get Feedback:

Property owners are encouraged to consult with the Historic Preservation Commission early in the design process to receive informal feedback and technical assistance. The Commission can direct you to resources that may save you time and money.

Contact Us:

The Historic Preservation Commission meets the first and third Wednesday of every month, at 7:00 pm in the Council Committee Room at the Municipal Center. If you would like to have your project reviewed informally by the Commission, or if you have other questions on the requirements for a Certificate of Appropriateness, please contact the Community & Economic Development Department at (630) 377-4443.


updated Jan 26, 2022