Ask the Editor: What is a certificate of appropriateness?


When the owner of a historic property in Georgetown wants to renovate or demolish all or some of the property, the owner must first obtain a document called a certificate of appropriateness. Considering applications and granting certificates for historic properties are primary duties of the city’s Historic and Architectural Review Commission, although a proposal before City Council might change that authority.

Property owners first submit applications for certificates to the city and detail proposed changes. City staff reviews applications for completeness and to see if changes comply with city development and design guidelines. HARC then holds public hearings and discusses applications before the commission’s seven appointed members vote.

Successful applicants can then move forward to obtaining a site plan, building permit or any other necessary documents. Denials can be appealed to City Council and require at least five votes to overturn.

This post is adapted from a version that appears in the September 2018 print issue of Community Impact Newspaper’s Georgetown edition.

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