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The details of COA applications vary from landmark to landmark, but the HPC tries diligently to balance its responsibility for adhering to proper standards with accommodating the owners’ preferences.
As in most jurisdictions throughout the United States and Maryland with local historic preservation programs, Harford County uses the publication issued by the National Park Service entitled The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. Projects submitted for approval by the Historic Preservation Commission typically fall within the chapter of the publication dealing with "Standards for Rehabilitation." These are broadly worded guidelines that focus on rehabilitation and repair. All proposed work must follow these standards.
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1. The prestige of formal recognition that your property is significant in American/Harford County history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and/or culture.
2. Eligibility for county, state and federal historic preservation tax credits and other funding opportunities such as grants.
3. Historic designation improves property values and protects the value of your investment. Real estate experts have found that historic designation of a property, especially in districts, increases the salability of a property. Buyers will pay more for historic properties that are well-maintained and have intact historic character.
4. In designated districts, it prevents your neighbors from completing any incompatible home improvements that can potentially diminish property values.
5. Designation of a historic landmark, especially in designated historic districts, can protect your property, neighborhood, village, or town from inappropriate development. It will preserve its character and maintain its identity.
6. Historic designation and historic preservation, in general, can help prevent sprawl and unwanted developed.
7. If you restored or rehabilitated your property, landmark designation will provide a level of protection on all your hard work. It can provide assurance that future owners will preserve what you have accomplished.
8. As the owner of a historic landmark, you will be able to receive free technical assistance from the county historic preservation planner and members of the Historic Preservation Commission.
9. Owning a home that was constructed with old growth wood and other good quality building materials that are more durable than materials used today.
To be eligible for a Harford County Historic Landmark designation, a site, structure, building, district, or object must be surveyed in the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties, at least 50 years old or older, have sufficient integrity of location, design, materials, workmanship and meet one or more of the following:
1. Historical and cultural significance:
2. Architectural and design significance:
The designation process has three primary stages:
1. Nomination to the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC);
2. Review and vote by the HPC; and
3. Review and vote by the Harford County Council.
The process begins with submittal of a completed Historic Landmark Nomination Form [MC1]. Nominations may be submitted by a member of the HPC, owner of record of the nominated property or any other person or organization. A nomination for an individual site, structure, or property, however, must have written consent of the legal property owner(s) before it goes to county council.
At a public meeting, the HPC will review the nomination and staff recommendations. The HPC will determine if the nomination adheres to the Criteria for Designation, and vote to recommend the nominated resource to the county council. The authority for designation of Harford County Historic Landmarks rests with the elected county council.
The nomination is then sent by the Department of Planning and Zoning, in conjunction with the HPC, to the county council. After written notice to the owner, and another public hearing, the council will vote to place the nominated resource on the Harford County Historic Landmarks list.
For more information OR if you are interested in nominating a resource for designation as a Harford County Historic Landmark, please contact Joel Gallihue, 410-638-3136 or firstname.lastname@example.org
[MC1]Link to Nomination form pdf
The Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) consists of seven volunteer members who are appointed by the county executive. Each HPC member possesses a demonstrated interest, specific knowledge, or professional or academic training in the fields of history, architectural history, architecture, planning, archaeology, historic preservation, landscape architecture, urban design, or related disciplines. The HPC is staffed by the county’s historic preservation planner, who provides technical assistance and serves as a liaison between county departments and the HPC. The HPC recommends Harford County properties for inclusion on Harford County Historic Landmark list, considers petitions for Harford County Historic District, reviews proposals for exterior alterations to designated Harford County Historic Landmarks, and advises the county executive on the protection, enhancement and perpetuation of historic resources that are significant in Harford County’s historic and cultural heritage.
Yes, Harford County Historic Landmarks can be changed. The HPC has no authority over the use or interior of any Harford County Historic Landmark. The HPC does approve changes, including additions, provided they are in keeping with the major character-defining exterior features that make the structure historically significant. Changes to the exterior or any undertaking that requires a building or demolition permit from the Department of Inspections, Licenses, and Permits requires prior approval from the HPC through a Certificate of Appropriateness, or COA. General, routine maintenance, that does not change the appearance of the historic landmark, does not need approval.
The basic principle is to retain and rehabilitate – rather than replace – the building’s historic materials (especially windows, doors and siding) so the building retains its physical integrity as a representative of itself and its time in history.
The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties are common sense historic preservation principles in non-technical language. They promote historic preservation best practices that will help to protect our nation’s irreplaceable cultural resources. They are a series of concepts about maintaining, repairing, and replacing historic materials, as well as designing new additions or making alterations. The Standards offer four distinct approaches to the treatment of historic properties - preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, and reconstruction with guidelines for each.
Rehabilitation is defined as the act or process of making possible a compatible use for a property through repair, alterations, and additions while preserving those portions or features that convey its historical, cultural, or architectural values. The Standards for Rehabilitation are common sense principles in non-technical language that focus on repair and rehabilitate – rather than replace – the building’s historic materials. The Standards are:
1. A property will be used as it was historically or be given a new use that requires minimal change to its distinctive materials, features, spaces and spatial relationships.
2. The historic character of a property will be retained and preserved. The removal of distinctive materials or alteration of features, spaces and spatial relationships that characterize a property will be avoided.
3. Each property will be recognized as a physical record of its time, place and use. Changes that create a false sense of historical development, such as adding conjectural features or elements from other historic properties, will not be undertaken.
4. Changes to a property that have acquired historic significance in their own right will be retained and preserved.
5. Distinctive materials, features, finishes and construction techniques or examples of craftsmanship that characterize a property will be preserved.
6. Deteriorated historic features will be repaired rather than replaced. Where the severity of deterioration requires replacement of a distinctive feature, the new feature will match the old in design, color, texture and, where possible, materials. Replacement of missing features will be substantiated by documentary and physical evidence.
7. Chemical or physical treatments, if appropriate, will be undertaken using the gentlest means possible. Treatments that cause damage to historic materials will not be used.
8. Archeological resources will be protected and preserved in place. If such resources must be disturbed, mitigation measures will be undertaken.
9. New additions, exterior alterations or related new construction will not destroy historic materials, features and spatial relationships that characterize the property. The new work will be differentiated from the old and will be compatible with the historic materials, features, size, scale and proportion, and massing to protect the integrity of the property and its environment.
10. New additions and adjacent or related new construction will be undertaken in such a manner that, if removed in the future, the essential form and integrity of the historic property and its environment would be unimpaired.
Examples of approved projects include, but are not limited to:
Examples of projects that do not follow the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards include, but are not limited to: