Historic Preservation Ordinance Review Standards

Depending on the nature of the project, applications are reviewed under one of the following sets of standards. 

Standards for Review of Alterations to Contributing and Landmark Properties

Click to view guidelines and illustrations that further explain the intent and applicability of the following review standards.

In considering an application for a Certificate of Appropriateness involving alterations to landmark and contributing structures, the Historic Preservation Board applies the following general review standards:

Standard #1:  Every reasonable effort shall be made to provide a compatible use for the property which requires minimal alteration to the character-defining features of the structure, object or site and its environment or to use a property for its originally intended purpose.

Standard #2:  The distinguishing original qualities or character of a structure, object or site and its environment shall not be destroyed. The removal or alteration of any historic material or distinctive architectural features should be avoided when possible.

Standard #3:  All sites, structures and objects shall be recognized as products of their own time, place and use. Alterations that have no historical basis or create a false sense of historical development such as adding conjectural features or elements from other properties shall be discouraged.

Standard #4:  Changes which may have taken place in the course of time are evidence of the history and development of a structure, object or site and its environment. Changes that have acquired significance in their own right, shall not be destroyed.

Standard #5:  Distinctive features, finishes, and construction techniques or examples of skilled craftsmanship which characterize a structure, object or site shall be treated with sensitivity.

Standard #6:  Deteriorated historic features shall be repaired rather than replaced wherever feasible. Where the severity of deterioration requires replacement of a distinctive feature, the new feature should match the feature being replaced in composition, design, texture and other visual qualities and, where possible, materials. Repair or replacement of missing historic features should be based on accurate duplications of features, substantiated by documentary, physical or pictorial evidence rather than on conjectural designs or the availability of different architectural elements from other structures or objects.

Standard #7:  The surface cleaning of structures and objects, if appropriate, shall be undertaken with the gentlest means possible. Chemical or physical treatments, such as sandblasting, that cause damage to historic materials shall not be undertaken.

Standard #8:  Every reasonable effort shall be made to protect and preserve significant archeological resources affected by or adjacent to any project. If resources must be disturbed, mitigation measures shall be undertaken.

Standard #9:  Contemporary design for alterations and additions to existing properties shall not be discouraged when such alterations and additions do not destroy significant cultural, historical, architectural or archeological materials that characterize the property. The new work shall be differentiated from the old and shall be compatible with the size, scale, color, material and character of the property, neighborhood or environment.

Standard #10:  Wherever possible, new additions or alterations to structures and objects shall be undertaken in such a manner that, if such additions or alterations were to be removed in the future, the essential form and integrity of the historic property would be unimpaired.

Standards for Review of Alterations to or Redesign of Noncontributing Structures


Sec. 14-651.5. Standards for review of alterations to or redesign of noncontributing structures. 

(a) In considering an application for a certificate of appropriateness involving alteration(s) to a noncontributing structure the standards for review of alterations set forth in section 14-650 shall apply as applicable. The intent of the review shall be to ensure no further erosion of any existing architectural character of the subject structure determined to be significant by the historic preservation board and, where practicable, to guide projects toward a more compatible relationship with the surrounding context. (b) In considering an application for a certificate of appropriateness involving comprehensive redesign of a noncontributing structure, the standards for review of construction set forth in section 14-651 shall apply. (Ord. No. 165-08/09, 3-16-09)"


Standards for Review of New Construction


Click here to view guidelines and illustrations that further explain the intent and applicability of the following review standards.

In considering an application for a certificate of appropriateness involving new construction, the historic preservation board and the planning board shall apply the following general standards as may be applicable to the context of the proposed construction.  The intent and application of the following standards are further described in the historic resources design manual and shall guide the board in its review.


(a) Scale and form:

1. Height.  In addition to the applicable requirements of articles III, IV and V of this chapter, the proposed height shall be visibly compatible with surrounding structures when viewed from any street or open space and in compliance with any design guidelines.

2. Width.  The width of a building shall be visually compatible with surrounding structures when viewed from any street or open space and in compliance with any design guidelines.

3. Proportion of principal facades.  The relationship of the width to the height of the principal elevations shall be visually compatible with structures, public ways and open spaces to which it is visually related.
4. Roof shapes.  The roof shape of a structure shall be visually compatible with the structures to which it is visually related.

5. Scale of a structure.  The size and mass of structures in relation to open spaces, windows, door openings, porches and balconies shall be visually compatible with the structures, public ways and places to which they are visually related.

6. Applicability to congress street historic district.  In the Congress Street historic district, for new construction within the B3 zone, the   historic preservation board shall not impose conditions more restrictive than the dimensional requirements (Sec 14-220) of the B3 zone.

(b) Composition of principal facades:

1. Proportions of openings.  The relationship of the width to height of windows and doors shall be visually compatible with structure,s public ways and places to which the building is visually related.

2. Rhythm of solids to voids in facades.  The relationship of solids to voids in the facade of a structure shall be visually compatible with structures, public ways and places to which it is visually related.

3. Rhythm of entrance porch and other projections.  The relationship of entrances and other projections to sidewalks shall be visually compatible with the structures, public ways and places to which they are visually related.

4. Relationship of materials.  The relationship of the color and texture of materials (other than paint color) of the facade shall be visually
compatible with the predominant materials used in the structures to which they are visually related.

5. Signs.  Any new sign, and any change in the appearance of an existing sign located on a landmark within an historic district or within an historic landscape district, which is readily visible from any street or open space shall not be incongruous to the historic character of the landmark or district and shall comply with the criteria and guidelines specified in the design manual.

(c) Relationship to street:

1. Walls of continuity.  Facades and site structures, such as masonry walls, fences and landscape masses, shall, when it is a characteristic of the area, form cohesive walls of enclosure along a street to ensure visual compatibility with the structures, public ways and places to which such elements are visually related.

2. Rhythm of spacing and structures on streets.  The relationship of a structure or object to the open space between it and adjoining structures or objects shall be visually compatible with the structures, objects, public ways and places to which it is visually related.

3. Directional expression of principal elevation.  A structure shall be visually compatible with the structures, public ways and places to which it is visually related in its directional character, whether this be vertical character, horizontal character or nondirectional character.

4. Streetscape, pedestrian improvements.  Streetscape and pedestrian improvements and any change in the appearance thereof located adjacent to, or on a landmark, within an historic district or within an historic landscape district which is readily visible from any street or open space shall not be incongruous to the historic character of the landmark or district and shall comply with the criteria and guidelines specified in the design manual.

(d) Other standards:

1. Compatible uses.  Every reasonable effort shall be made to provide a compatible use for a property which requires minimal alteration to the character-defining features of the structure, object or site and its environment or to use a property for its originally intended purpose.

2. Distinguishing original character.  The distinguishing original qualities or character of a structure, object or site and its environment shall not be destroyed.  The alteration of any historic material or distinctive architectural features should be avoided when possible.

3. Archeological resources.  Every reasonable effort shall be made to protect and preserve significant archeological resources affected by or adjacent to any project.  If resources must be disturbed, mitigation measures shall be undertaken.

4. Contemporary design.  Contemporary design for additions to existing properties shall not be discouraged when such alterations and additions do not destroy significant cultural, historical, architectural or archeological materials that characterize the property.  The new work shall be differentiated from the old and shall be compatible with the size, scale, material and character of the property, neighborhood and environment.

5. Additions.  Wherever possible, new additions to structures and objects shall be undertaken in such a manner that, if such additions were to be removed in the future, the essential form and integrity of the structure would be unimpaired.


Standards for Review of Signage


Click here to view guidelines and illustrations that further explain the intent and applicability of the following review standards.

In considering an application for a certificate of appropriateness involving the installation or modification of sign(s), including awning(s) which incorporate signage, the following standard shall apply

(a) Signs shall be compatible with the subject building and its surrounding context as detailed in the signage design guidelines included in the historic resources design manual.  If there is a conflict between this standard and the requirements of Article III, Division 22.  Signs, the stricter standard shall apply. 
(b) Composition of principal facades.