Historic Development and Landmarks
Certificate of Appropriateness
Historic district designation is designed to protect and enhance the existing character of a community. Through historic district overlay zoning, a neighborhood is protected from unmanaged change by a review process based on established design guidelines. Any exterior change within a Raleigh Historic Overlay District or to a Raleigh Historic Landmark must receive a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) prior to beginning the work, regardless of other required city permits. A property owner (or representative) who develops a project concept requiring a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) is encouraged to consult with staff and review the Certificate of Appropriateness list to determine whether his or her project is classified as "minor work" or "major work". Minor work is reviewed and approved by staff. Major work is reviewed by the COA Committee of the Raleigh Historic Development Commission in a quasi-judicial public hearing held once per month.
The owner obtains a COA application form, completes it, attaches supplemental materials as applicable, and submits it and the application fee by mail or in person to the Development Services Customer Service Center. Upon receipt of the application, staff verifies that it is complete and determines if the project involves minor work or major work through criteria set forth by the COA Review List. Applicants are informed when submittal package is incomplete and staff is unable to process the project.
See the City of Raleigh Development Services Glossary for any unfamiliar terms.
Staff members approve the application upon determining that the proposed work meets the Design Guidelines for Raleigh Historic Districts, or after working with the applicant to modify the project to meet these guidelines. After approval, staff will mail the applicant a copy of the approved application and the blue placard form of the COA. The applicant must then post this placard in public view while performing the approved work. Any minor work application that staff is unable to approve is automatically referred to the COA Committee for review.
Major work applications are placed on the next COA Committee agenda, based upon which COA deadline date they meet. The applicant receives a copy of the meeting agenda in the mail about one week before the meeting and will have a public notice sign posted at his or her property. The owners of properties within 100 feet of the property will be sent a letter and agenda as their notification of the hearing. The applicant and any other parties who wish to speak do so when the case is called during the public testimony portion of the quasi-judicial public hearing. The COA Committee then makes a decision to approve, approve with conditions, defer (usually to provide the applicant an opportunity to gather additional information supporting his/her application), or deny the application. After the meeting, the applicant will receive the following: a letter stating the decision made, a copy of the Certified Record for his/her application, and the COA approval placard, if the committee approved the application without conditions. If the approval came with conditions to be completed prior to the issuance of permits, the applicant must act to meet these conditions before the COA approval placard is released. The placard must be posted in public view while the approved work is being performed.
Are there any prerequisites to this process?
- The application must be for work involving a Raleigh Historic Landmark or property in a Raleigh Historic Overlay District. To determine if a property is located within a Historic Overlay District, use the iMAPS web application as a tool to "Research My Property".
The applicant must also either own the property where work is to be performed, or have the permission of the owner to apply for said work
How do I start the process?
Print copies of the COA application and the Design Guidelines for Raleigh Historic Districts. You may also visit the Development Services Customer Service Center to obtain copies in person. The applicant should then read through the Design Guidelines, particularly those sections most relevant to the proposed project, to evaluate whether or not they believe the proposed work complies with the Design Guidelines. If the project does not seem compatible with the Design Guidelines, the applicant should either consider altering the project to make it compatible, or should contact staff to ask for assistance in modifying the work to meet the Design Guidelines. The applicant should then complete the COA application, attaching additional documentation as needed, and submit it by mail to: City Planning/RHDC PO Box 590 Raleigh, NC 27602 or in person. Major Work submittal packages should be received no later than 4:00 p.m. on the application deadline in order to be heard at the committee's next meeting. See link for submittal deadlines. Minor Work applications are accepted any time between 8:00 a.m. and 4:45 p.m.
What do I need to submit to the City?
|COA SUBMITTAL PACKAGE|
|Required for Submittal||Certificate of Appropriateness Application (type or use black ink only)
Written description of the project
Fee payment in the form of a check made payable to the City of Raleigh (See Development Fee Schedule)
Photographs of existing conditions; Include front of the house
|Required for Some Projects||Plot plan (See sample) - Show existing and proposed; Use accurate measurements. Note: Not needed for changing paint color or re-roofing
Description of materials/material samples
Dimensioned plan, elevation, and detail drawings (existing and proposed)
Detailed manufacturers information for new items to be used (doors, windows, etc.) and material samples
Paint Color Schedule
Photographs of completed work similar to the proposed project within the district
Major Work requires 14 copies of the submittal package
What additional documents may be needed?
- No additional documents are required from the City for a COA approval. However, the extra items listed in the submittal table above may need to be generated by the applicant in order to provide information regarding a project sufficient for an approval to be granted
- Historic District property repairs as a result of a natural disaster
- Historic Property Tax Credit
Where do I submit my application?
All commercial plans should be submitted to the Development Services Customer Service Center.
What are the keys to success?
- Consult with staff prior to or during your planning phase. Read the Design Guidelines for Raleigh Historic Districts and modify proposed work to comply with them PRIOR to applying for a project. Watch COA video for guidance.
- Follow application instructions and complete the form accurately and legibly. Tips to improve your application
- Remember to sign the application
- Use black ink (for text as well as drawings) and reduce documents in a legible manner to 8 1/2" x 11" paper
- Make intentions clear (existing vs. what is proposed)
- Provide a written description that clearly describes and shows what changes are planned, including dimensions, materials, and any additional information you think would be helpful to understand exactly what is to occur at a property
- Where appropriate, provide drawings of the proposed work and make sure to dimension the drawings or provide an accurate graphic scale
- Obtain a COA for the entire scope of the project whenever possible, avoiding needlessly applying for small fragments of a large project in multiple applications. An applicant should contact staff prior to application submittal, if they suspect the project should be broken into separate minor work and major work applications
- If a major work is approved with conditions that some items be reviewed and approved by staff, all of the items to be reviewed should be submitted at the same time in one package rather than provided piecemeal in many batches, which can lengthen the process considerably and result in additional re-review fees
- To understand conditions pertaining to your application, as provided by City Code, commission staff typically will visit your property as part of the review process. COA committee members will also visit in cases involving major work
What fees are involved and when do I pay them?
- Application fees are due at time of submittal
- Fee payment in the form of a check made payable to: City of Raleigh
- Send submittal package to: City Planning, Historic Development Staff, PO Box 590 Raleigh, NC 27602 or in person to: DSCSC located at One Exchange Plaza, Suite 400, Raleigh NC
- See Development Services Fee Schedule for specific fees associated with the defined project type (minor work, major work, additions greater than 25% of building square footage, new building, demolition)
- Re-review fees for Major Work applications requiring more than one staff review of condition fulfillment materials are required to be paid prior to issuance of the COA approval placard
How long will this process take?
Applications for minor work generally take between 3 to 10 business days (excluding mailing time) to process, with rare exceptions such as inconsistency with the guidelines that requires elevating an application to major work for COA committee approval.
Applications for major work usually take between 10 to 30 business days to process, depending upon the complexity of the project and whether or not the application is detailed enough that conditions for further staff review are not placed upon the approval. In rare exceptions where an applicant has difficulty fulfilling conditions or supplying information needed by the committee to make a decision, this time period may be extended up to 180 days.