Certificate of Appropriateness

Purpose
A Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) is designed to protect designated historic properties and districts from insensitive alterations and demolition, and to ensure that new buildings are compatible with the old.

Projects Requiring a COA
A COA is required for work involving a material change in the exterior appearance of a designated property. Examples include changes to the site and setting of a property, rehabilitation, demolition, new construction, additions, and relocation.

Process
The basic steps in the COA process are:
  • The Applicant submits a completed COA application form and supporting documentation to the Historic Preservation Commission. The application is placed on the Historic Preservation Commission regular meeting agenda. Staff may approve certain minor projects if they meet the applicable design guidelines.
  • A sign is posted on the affected property at least 15 days before the meeting.
  • The Historic Preservation Commission reviews the application at a regular meeting for consistency with the applicable design guidelines.
  • The Historic Preservation Commission issues a COA. Applicant or property owner secures a building permit for the proposed work.
Design Guidelines
The Historic Preservation Commission uses the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Historic Preservation Projects in reviewing COA applications. In addition, the Historic Preservation Commission uses design guidelines manuals prepared specifically for the Summerville and Bethlehem Districts.

Application
The COA application may be submitted by a property owner or by someone acting on behalf of the owner. The application form and related information are available from the Historic Preservation Commission. Due to public notification requirements, an application must be received at least 17 days before the regular Historic Preservation Commission meeting.