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Greensboro’s Historic District Commission meets tomorrow as they do on the last Wednesday of every month.  One of the Commission’s main tasks is to decide if proposed alterations to the exterior of structures lying within Greensboro’s three historic districts follow the Historic District Guidelines (PDF file).  If they deem the proposed changes as being appropriate, a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) is issued and work can begin.


Of late their mission has been a little different, however. 


Many of the items that have been coming before the Commission over the past several months are not for proposed work, but for work that is already underway or completed.  In other words, someone has altered an historic structure – got caught – and were told by the city’s staff that they must apply for, and seek a ruling to obtain, an after-the-fact COA.  If they refuse to do so, fines can be levied until the property owner comes into compliance. 


Here is this month’s COA agenda:  Click on the address for pictures of existing structures and the actual COA.



3.   Public Hearings on Applications for Certificate of Appropriateness


a)      1001 N. Eugene Street – replace 3 exterior doors (continued)
b)       930 Walker Avenue (St. Mary’s House) – Replace windows (continued)
c)      112 E. Hendrix Street – Removal of porte-cochere; tree removal (after-the-fact)
d)      200 S. Mendenhall Street – Replacement of bathroom windows (after-the-fact)
e)      201 S. Mendenhall Street – Replacement of bathroom windows (after-the-fact)
f)      314 Jackson Street – Construction of driveway
g)      916 Walker Avenue – Replacement of windows
h)      224 South Park Drive – Construction of retaining walls (after-the-fact) 


With this much non-compliance, the City is going to have to put some real effort into getting people educated about what it means to live in an historic district and impose a little financial pain on those who flaunt the rules. 


The Guidelines are not hard to follow and are no more onerous than the typical restrictive covenants that many planned developments place upon people who buy into those neighborhoods.  The Guidelines and the Commission are important tools to preserve the character and distinctiveness of historic structures and neighborhoods.


One suggestion came via email from a former Historic District Commission member:  The application process is currently free of City fees.  She proposes for the City to impose an application fee only on property owners who submit their COA application after-the-fact   That sounds to me like a resonable idea.  Break the rules – pay some money

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