District Government agencies are required to get a building permit before starting work on a government construction project. For work on a historic property or in a historic area, getting a permit also involves making sure that proposed changes are compatible with protected historic and architectural characteristics. This is done through a design review process managed by the Historic Preservation Office (HPO) and Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB). Design review is quick for most types of work, but design review of major projects may involve presentation of the project at a public meeting.
About Permits and Historic Preservation Review
Historic preservation review is part of the building permit process. It occurs for new construction and any addition, alteration, or repair to the exterior appearance of a historic property when a building permit is required. Building demolition and subdivision of property is also subject to historic preservation review.
In addition to the requirement for a building permit, District Government agencies have other historic preservation responsibilities. Agencies are required by law to consult with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) on all government projects before seeking a permit. This review applies to all projects in order to determine if there are any effects on properties eligible for historic designation.
HPO Review (Expedited Review)
HPO approves in-kind repair and replacement, small additions, and minor alterations that are compatible with the character of the historic property or area. For routine items, this review occurs “over the counter” on a walk-in basis. For more significant changes, it may involve setting up a meeting with the HPO staff.
Agencies may submit routine and minor work for expedited permit review, but should not neglect the requirement to consult with the SHPO before seeking permits. Early consultation with the SHPO addresses preservation issues up front and simplifies building permit reviews. Agencies are also encouraged to develop a Memorandum of Agreement with the SHPO to streamline permit reviews for routine agency projects.
HPRB reviews demolition, new construction, and larger projects like major alterations and additions. This review occurs in an HPRB meeting open to the public. In almost all cases, HPRB reviews project designs at an early conceptual stage. The conceptual design review process allows agencies to get HPRB’s general approval and direction on the project before preparing full architectural plans for final HPO review.
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