Local historic designation is a form of overlay zoning that provides controls on changes to the exterior of existing buildings and the construction of new buildings. The purpose of local historic designation is to maintain property values and protect properties and neighborhoods from change that is incongruous with the special character of the district or landmark.
Difference between National Register and Local Historic Designations
Local historic districts should not be confused with the National Register of Historic Places, which is a nationwide historic listing and functions primarily as an honorary designation. While the two designations often overlap, the Hickory Historic Preservation Commission only exercises design review authority over locally designated districts and landmarks.
Local Historic Listings in Hickory
There are currently three local historic districts within the city: Oakwood, Kenworth, and Claremont, as well as, a number of locally designated historic landmarks (individual properties) in the city. All three local historic districts were established around 1985. In total, approximately 160 properties have been locally designated. All exterior changes and alterations to local historic buildings and sites, excluding ordinary maintenance and repair, must receive a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Historic Preservation Commission.
Certificate of Appropriateness Approval Process
Prior to making any changes to the exterior of a locally designated historic property, a property owner must check with the Historic Preservation Commission to determine if the changes will require a Certificate of Appropriateness. A Certificate of Appropriateness is the permit that formally grants permission to complete the proposed work after it is determined that the proposal is compatible with the Design Review Guidelines.
Whether or not a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) is required depends on the level of change being proposed. The Design Review Guidelines classify types of work into three categories: ordinary maintenance and repair, minor work, and major work. Work classified as ordinary maintenance and repair does not require a COA. Minor works require a COA, but can be approved at the staff level. Major works must be approved by the Historic Preservation Commission through a public hearing process.
Minor work COAs do not have an application fee and are often approved on the same day the application is submitted. If staff member determines that the application does not clearly comply with the Design Review Guidelines, the applicant can revise the application or request that the application be brought before the Historic Preservation Commission similiar to a major work COA.
Major work COAs have an application fee (to cover the cost of public notices) and must be heard by the Historic Preservation Commission through a public hearing process. The public hearing process requires formal notifications to neighboring property owners and the general public. Applications submitted by the first day of the month, will be heard at the Commission's next meeting, typically on the fourth Tuesday of that month. City staff will handle the public notifications and complete a staff report for the Commission. Once the Historic Preservation Commission has reviewed and approved the application, work can be started the following day. If the Historic Preservation Commission denies the application, the application can be revised and resubmitted or an appeal can be made to the Hickory Board of Adjustment.
In the event changes are made to properties without a Certificate of Appropriateness, the property owner will be issued a Notice of Violation and will be required to go through the process after the fact. Civil citations may also be issued against the property owner, if deemed warranted.
If you have questions about locally designated historic properties or the Certificate of Appropriateness process, please contact the Planning and Development Division at (828) 323-7422.