Local Historic District

A local historic district is a form of overlay zoning and is "overlaid" on the existing zoning classifications in the community. The overlay creates a special zoning district which identifies special provisions in addition to those in the underlying base zone.  The purpose of implementing a local historic designation is to maintain property values and protect properties and neighborhoods from change that is incongruous with the special and unique character of the district or landmark. It provides Mount Airy with the means to make sure that growth, development, and change take place in ways that respect the important architectural, historical, and environmental characteristics within the district.

The local historic district is regulated by a local ordinance that falls under the jurisdiction of the Mount Airy Historic Preservation Commission.  The Historic Preservation Commission exercises design review authority (not property use) over the local historic district and landmarks. All new construction, exterior changes and alterations to buildings and sites located in the local historic district (excluding ordinary maintenance and repair), must receive a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Historic Preservation Commission.

How Do I Apply for a Certificate of Appropriateness? 

Prior to making any changes to the exterior of a structure located in the local historic district, a property owner must check with the Planning Department to determine if the changes will require a Certificate of Appropriateness. A Certificate of Appropriateness is the permit that formally grants permission to complete the proposed work after it is determined by the Historic Preservation Commission that the proposal is compatible with the Design Standards

Whether or not a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) is required depends on the level of change being proposed. The Design Standards classify types of work into three categories: ordinary maintenance and repair, minor work, and major work. Work classified as ordinary maintenance and repair does not require a COA. Minor works require a COA, but can be approved at the staff level. Major works must be approved by the Historic Preservation Commission through a quasi-judicial hearing process.

Minor work COAs are often approved on the same day the application is submitted. If a staff member determines that the application does not clearly comply with the Design Standards, the applicant can revise the application or request that the application be brought before the Historic Preservation Commission similar to a major work COA.

Major work COAs have an application fee and must be heard by the Historic Preservation Commission through a quasi-judicial hearing process. Applications submitted by the first day of the month, will be heard at the Commission's next meeting, typically on the third Tuesday of that month. City staff will handle the notifications and complete a staff report for the Commission. Once the Historic Preservation Commission has reviewed and approved the application, work can be started the following day. If the Historic Preservation Commission denies the application, the application can be revised and resubmitted or an appeal can be made to the Mount Airy Board of Adjustment.

In the event changes are made to properties without a Certificate of Appropriateness, the property owner will be issued a Notice of Violation and will be required to go through the process after the fact. Civil citations may also be issued against the property owner, if deemed warranted.

COA Flowchart LogoApply for COA Logo

Financial Incentives for Preservation

The local historic district is located within the larger Mount Airy National Historic District. As such, properties listed in the National Historic District may be eligible for state and federal rehabilitation tax credits to assist with renovations. Income producing properties (commercial, multi-family, etc.) may be eligible for the 20% federal tax credit and a 15% state piggyback tax credit, while non-income producing properties (owner occupied, residential) may be eligible for a 15% state tax credit. Properties must be considered contributing to the district and work must be completed in accordance to federal guidelines. For more information regarding historic tax credits, please contact the State Historic Preservation Office.

Local Historic District Listings in Mount Airy

There is currently one local historic district and one landmark:

  • Local Historic District                                           Established July 1992             Map
  • William Alfred Moore House                               Listed Mar 6, 1986                 Historic Map  Nomination 

Historic Preservation

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