Historic District Commission

Before a property owner may authorize or commence construction, alteration, repair, removal or demolition affecting the exterior appearance of a structure or its appurtenances within the Historic District, the owner must apply for and receive a certificate of appropriateness from the Historic District Commission. In applying, the owner must comply with application procedures as established by the commission pursuant to R.I.G.L. 1956, § 45-24.1-1 et seq., and the Town’s regulation.  Applications are available by clicking here.

The Commission shall require the owner to submit information which is reasonably necessary to evaluate the proposed construction, alteration, repair, removal or demolition, including but not limited to plans, drawings, photographs or any other information set forth in the application procedures. The owner of the property must obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness for the project, whether or not state law requires a permit from the Building Inspector. The Building Inspector shall not issue a permit until the Commission has granted a Certificate of Appropriateness.

In reviewing plans, the Historic District Commission shall give consideration to the following:

  • The historic and architectural significance of the structure and its appurtenances;
  • The way in which the structure and its appurtenances contribute to the historical and architectural significance of the district; and
  • The appropriateness of the general design, arrangement, texture, materials and siting proposed in the plans.

The Commission shall pass only on exterior features of a structure and its appurtenances and shall not consider interior arrangements.

All decisions of the Commission shall be in writing. The Commission shall articulate and explain the reasons and bases of each decision on a record, or if the decision is not to issue a certificate of compliance, the commission shall include the bases for its conclusion that the proposed activity would be incongruous with those aspects of the structure, appurtenance or the district which that Commission has determined to be historically or architecturally significant. The Commission shall send a copy of the decision to the applicant.

If an application is submitted for construction, repair, alteration, removal or demolition affecting the exterior appearance of a structure or its appurtenances which the Commission deems so valuable to the town, state or nation that the loss thereof will be a great loss to the Town, State or Nation, the Commission shall endeavor to work out with the owner an economically feasible plan for the preservation of such structure. Unless the Commission is satisfied that the retention of such structure constitutes a hazard to public safety, which hazard cannot be eliminated by economic means available to the owner, including sale of the structure to any purchaser willing to preserve such structure, or unless the Commission votes to issue a Certificate of Appropriateness for such proposed construction, alteration, removal or demolition, the Commission shall file with the Building Inspector its rejection of such application.

If any structure is deemed so valuable for the period of architecture it represents and important to the neighborhood within which it exists, the Commission may file with the Building Inspector its Certificate of Appropriateness for such application if any of the circumstances under which a Certificate of Appropriateness might have been given if:

  • Preservation of such structure is a deterrent to a major improvement program which will be of substantial benefit to the community;
  • Preservation of such structure would cause undue or unreasonable financial hardship to the owner, taking into account the financial resources available to the owner including sale of the structure to any purchaser willing to preserve such structure; or
  • Preservation of such structure would not be in the interest of the majority of the community.

When considering an application to demolish or remove a structure of historic value, the Commission shall assist the owner in identifying and evaluating alternatives to demolition, including sale of the structure in its present site. In addition to any other criteria, the Commission also shall consider whether there is a reasonable likelihood that some person or group other than the current owner is willing to purchase, move and preserve such structure and whether the owner has made continuing, bona fide and reasonable efforts to sell the structure to any such purchaser willing to move and preserve such structure.

In circumstances where Historic District Commission review may overlap with historic reviews of the State Historic Preservation Commission, it shall be the obligation of the Historic District Commission to arrange a coordinated review process with the state agency. This coordinated review shall be arranged within the time limitations established through the local commission's rules of procedure for its own review of an application. The purpose of the coordinated review shall be to minimize the potential for conflicting opinions on matters related to historic preservation on the part of the local and state authorities. The Historic District Commission shall solicit the written comments of the State Historic Preservation Commission.

Meeting Agendas and Minutes 2008 - Present

All meetings are held in the Town Hall Conference Room, 80 Boston Neck Road at 7:00 pm unless otherwise noted.

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