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The commission reviews plans for all exterior alterations to buildings in the historic district, including changes or additions to the rear of the property. If the plans are approved, then the applicant may apply for a building permit. The commission also sponsors historic site surveys and publications.
The staff reviews applications and advises the commission on matters related to zoning code and design guidelines. The staff also assists property owners in preparing their applications and administers the Certified Local Government program for the commission.
There are 3 types of historic districts. The National Park Service designates National Historic Landmark districts that have the highest level of significance in our nation's past. The park service also administers the National Register of Historic Places which designates historic districts significant at local, state or national levels.
Each state has an office which reviews nominations to the National Register and forwards them to the Keeper of the National Register for review and approval. However, the property owner does not require approval for alterations or demolition in these types of districts except in the case of federal ownership or federal licensing, funding or permitting. A locally designated historic district is an area with specific boundaries that has been designated as such by a municipality or a county. Exterior alterations and demolitions in this type of district must be reviewed and approved by the Historic Preservation Commission before a building permit can be issued. However, approved rehabilitation in all of these district are eligible for tax credits.
If you plan to make 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. Because these properties are protected, their value usually exceeds that of properties that are not subject to review.
Determining a likely date of construction for an old house usually requires both documentary and architectural research. Documentary research that you can do yourself includes reviewing deed and probate information, tax records, and local histories. Your local historical society may also have other pertinent information as well as historic photographs.
Documentary research can be quite conclusive, but in some cases physical investigation will be necessary to supplement and/or corroborate the documentary evidence. The investigation of the architectural fabric may require a more trained eye and some technical assistance from a preservation professional.