From State Experts on Georgia Historic Preservation:
Frequently Asked Questions about Local Historic Districts
What if I want to demolish a structure in the historic district?
You will need the approval of the Commission at a public hearing. The Commission will review the plans for the redevelopment of the site at that time. And if the Commission does not approve the demolition, you can appeal this decision to the Mayor and Council.
What are some examples of local government regulations for the common good allowed by state and U.S. Constitutions?
Public Health, Building Codes, Zoning Ordinances, Subdivision Regulations, Pollution Controls, Sign Regulations, Environmental Regulations, Historic Preservation Ordinances.
Do I have any say as to whether my property is included in a Local Historic District?
The City Council will make the final decision as to the boundaries of the District. However, before a Local Historic District is designated, there will be public hearings and all residents and owners of property in the proposed local district will have the opportunity to express their views.
Will inclusion in a Local Historic District restrict how I may use my property?
No. There are no restrictions on use by the Design Guidelines. Current zoning and other City codes regulate how you may use your property.
Will inclusion in a Local Historic District prevent me from making changes to my property?
No. However if you want to make a "Material Change" you will need to review the change with the HPC and receive a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) as is currently required by the Architectural Review Board (ARB). A material change is defined as a reconstruction or alteration of the size, shape, or façade of a historic property, including relocation of the windows or removal or alteration of any architectural features, details, or elements, including walls, steps, and pavements or other appurtenant features except exterior paint color.
What if I just want to make a repair?
Ordinary repairs that put back the way it was do not have to follow the design guidelines. So, if you want to repair something the Commission will not make you "upgrade" to meet the design guidelines.
I have land available to build infill; will I still be able to do this?
Maybe, this is based upon zoning approval by the Planning and Zoning Board, the city council, and the city's Land Use Plan. The Historic Preservation Commission reviews only exterior designs.
Can I build a new house in the Historic District?
Yes. The Historic Preservation Commission will only review the exterior design to ensure the design is consistent with the architectural, historical and/or aesthetic qualities of the district.
What is the process for alterations to exteriors of properties within a Local Historic District?
The same as currently in place for the ARB; a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) application is submitted to the Community Development department. A report on the COA application is presented by the planning staff to the Historic Preservation Commission at its regular meeting the fourth Tuesday of each month. The HPC conducts a design review based on its adopted Guidelines.
What is the process for alterations to exteriors of properties not within a Local Historic District?
A Certificate of Appropriateness application is submitted to the Community Development department. A report on the COA application is presented by the planning staff to the Architectural Review Board (ARB) at its regular meeting the third Monday of each month. The ARB conducts a design review based on its adopted Guidelines.
Where can I go for assistance in developing design changes that will be appropriate for the Historic District?
Property owners in the Historic District who want assistance in planning changes may contact the Historic Preservation Commission and come to its regular meeting. Consultations in the early design stages are especially encouraged. The Commission cannot develop plans or designs, but can offer suggestions based on the Design Guidelines.
Are all buildings in Historic Districts necessarily historic?
No. When the boundaries are drawn for a local historic district, it will often include non-historic properties as well. Changes made to non historic properties can be done in a way that will be in keeping with the integrity of the entire district. Often improvements will increase property values to both historic and non-historic structures within a district. (Access data from state studies below)
What will happen to the value of my property if it is included in a Local Historic District?
There are no guarantees it will help your property values; however, there are studies that show property values increase at a higher rate within a Historic District than outside the district. Several references are listed below.
Am I required to hire an architect to make changes to my property?
No. You may bring either your own sketch of proposed changes or a detailed set of plans.
Will Compliance cost more than if the ARB hears my design review?
No. The application fees and the application requirements are the same as with the ARB.
How does the Commission make a decision?
The Commission has to approve applications that meet the design guidelines. Only when a change does not follow the Design Guidelines, the Commission may deny the request. Though typically, the Commission will suggest ways that will match the design guidelines. The 130 Commissions in Georgia this year have a 99 percent approval rate. In other words, Commissions understand and are interested in guiding change for rehabbing or adaptive reuse of historic property.
How can the local district designation provide protection for my property from unwanted county, state and federal changes?
Without a local ordinance in place, historic district property owners are subject to other governments that may want to encroach on the district. Examples are County and State DOT projects, Federal post offices, FCC cell towers, any other. The other Government agencies would have to follow the same Design Guidelines as anyone else wanting to build in the district.