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A local historic district is a type of zoning applied by the City Council or Board of County Commissioners to an area of special significance in terms of its history, prehistory, architecture, and/or culture, that possesses integrity of design, setting, materials, feeling, and association (as per NCGS 160A-400.3). Local historic districts can be located using the City’s DurhamMaps mapping program.
A local historic district is applied through the same procedure used to change the zoning of a parcel or parcels. Prior to the district’s adoption by the governing body, an investigation and report (Preservation Plan) must be developed, describing the boundaries of the district as well as the significance of structures, features, and sites within. After a district is established, a certificate of appropriateness (COA) is required before any exterior changes to the property may be made. Local historic districts can be located using the City’s iMaps mapping program. Regulations must be consistent with North Carolina General Statute 160A- 400.4.
A local historic landmark is a property designated by the City Council or the Board of County Commissioners for its special significance in terms of its historical, pre-historical, architectural, or cultural importance, and which possesses integrity of design, setting, workmanship, materials, feeling, and association.
A property owner may apply for historic landmark designation. A historic properties survey serves as a guide for determining eligible properties for designation. The staff prepares a report attesting to the significance of the structure, which is reviewed by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), the Historic Preservation Commission, and the governing body, the latter of which makes the final determination. The landmark is adopted by an Ordinance of Designation which must describe the property, list its owners, name key elements of its historical significance, affirm the waiting period required (up to 365 days) prior to a demolition, and note that a COA is required for any exterior changes to the property.
Before making any changes to a property in a local historic district or that is a local historic landmark, a COA is required even if no other permit is required. Local historic districts and local landmarks can be found using the City’s DurhamMaps program. A property that is only listed on the National Register but not designated as a local historic landmark or in a local historic district does not need a COA. If you are uncertain, please contact the Planning Department at [email protected].
For some applications, staff review of the COA is permitted. These Minor COA applications are reviewed and approved by Planning Department staff. Minor COA applications cannot be denied by Planning staff, so occasionally a Minor COA will be forwarded to the Historic Preservation Commission for review as a Major COA. The remainder of COA applications are reviewed and acted upon by the Historic Preservation Commission as Major COAs. Applications must be acted upon within 180 days of their being submitted and deemed complete. Detailed information regarding the level of review required for a particular scope of work can be found on the Development Services Center page at https://dsc.durhamnc.gov/174.
Contact the Planning Department at [email protected] or call 919-560-4137 or view the Map at