When you create a local historic district, it’s a type of zoning, and the first thing zoning needs is a description of the property being zoned. This creates a clear boundary so it’s understood what’s included in the boundary or regulations – and what is not.
When you create a local historic district, you also need clear requirements or regulations for the area in the district. For historic districts, this usually comes in the form of adopted design standards or design guidelines that spell out and illustrate what compatible changes to properties look like, and what requirements are for those changes.
Local historic districts also need to specify who is responsible for approving any changes that need special approval. For some historic districts, the changes can be approved by City staff. For others it’s the Historic District Commission. Sometimes it’s a combination of the two.
Because local historic districts are local and specific to a neighborhood, the regulations need to be specific to and fit that neighborhood. Some historic neighborhoods have a historic style residents would like to protect, and they want the regulations to require that any new structures or additions to existing structures match the historic appearance. Some historic neighborhoods have more variation, but they may have common characteristics (like having garages at the rear of the property or facing the side instead of being prominent at the front).
Historic preservation ordinances don’t prevent changes to properties, but they do guide what those changes look like. A historic preservation ordinance can also provide some flexibility when alternative approaches help protect historic structures.