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What is a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA)?

A Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) is the Historic District Commission (HDC) document attesting that specified work has been approved by the HDC.

A COA is required before most exterior work can begin, before a building permit can be issued, and before any variance of development standards, land use variance, or rezoning can be granted.

How is a COA granted?

Requests for COAs are reviewed by the HDC at a public hearing. If a project is deemed appropriate, the HDC grants the COA.

HDC review includes an assessment of the overall effect of any proposed alterations, constructions, relocations, removals or demolitions upon the character-defining exterior architectural features, historic value, and significance of landmarks or districts in which the subject property is located.

When is a COA required?

Activities that do not require a COA:

  • Interior projects (provided they do not result in exterior changes)
  • Routine maintenance or repair to exterior features (provided there is no change in material or design)
  • Ordinary landscaping, including the establishment of gardens, planting of trees, shrubs, flowers, etc.
  • Repainting
  • Identical replacement (color, style, etc) of modern asphalt roof coverings

Examples of activities that require HDC approval (by issuance of a COA) prior to undertaking any work:

  • Changes in style, material or configuration of existing siding, windows, doors or any other exterior architectural features
  • Construction of additions to an existing building
  • Construction of new buildings or other structures
  • Demolition, removal or replacement of all or part of any building or structure
  • Replacement of roof coverings (other than above)
  • Installation of exterior mechanical equipment
  • Construction of exterior site features fixed in the ground (walls, pergolas, swimming pools, for example)
  • Installation of new (or replacement of existing) signs
  • Replacement or installation of gutters and downspouts
  • Installation of canvas awnings on doors, windows and porches
  • Modifications to HDC-approved plans
  • Extension of an unexpired Certificate of Appropriateness

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