Making Changes to Historic Properties

Project Review for Historic Structures & Sites

Appropriateness | When Needed | Review Process | References

Application information

Certificate of Appropriateness (CofA)

Changes to historic properties should be made carefully in order to preserve their authenticity.

Changes to historic properties must be made carefully in order to preserve their authenticity.

In order to ensure that the integrity of the city’s historic resources are preserved, owners of properties with historic overlay zoning must obtain a CofA before beginning projects that would alter the exterior of these properties. The CofA verifies that the proposed changes are consistent with the city’s adopted historic design guidelines.

Failure to obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness or completion of work that is not consistent with the specifications in the certificate is considered a zoning violation and is subject to associated penalties.

What is “appropriateness”?

Proposed projects are reviewed for consistency with the standards given in the City’s Design Guidelines for Historic Commercial and Residential Districts, and the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. The historic design guidelines were developed to define what is appropriate specifically for historic properties in Round Rock.

Please consult these standards and guidelines when planning your project. The Planning & Development Services Department (PDS) and Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) can also be a valuable resource for advice regarding historically appropriate design.

When do I need a CofA?  

The owner must obtain a CofA before beginning any work on a structure or site with historic overlay zoning. The City designates historic landmarks and districts by adding historic zoning as an overlay to its base zoning (base zoning specifies permitted uses and development standards for the property).

If you are unsure whether a property has historic overlay zoning, you can use the CityView interactive map on Round Rock’s GeoPortal. The map CityView – Zoning has the Address, Parcel, and Zoning Overlay layers active.  Areas with historic overlay zoning are cross-hatched in black. If you are unable to use CityView, contact the PDS department at 512-218-5428.

A CofA is required for:

  • Any exterior work that results in a change of material, finish, design, or color
  • Restoration to an earlier condition
  • Major changes such as additions, outbuildings, or building a new structure in a historic district
  • Relocation of an historic structure to a new location, or of any structure into an historic district
  • Demolition of all or part of an historic property

A CofA is not required for:

  • Changes confined to the interior of a structure
  • Landscaping and plants (changes to patios do require a CofA)
  • Signs no longer require a CofA, but go through standard sign permit review under the standards for Special Areas.
  • “Ordinary repairs and maintenance” (see Section 46-5: Definitions)
    Simple repairs do not require a CofA, provided that the materials, design and application are unchanged. For example, replacing siding with the same material, installation pattern and paint color would not require a CofA, but using a different type of siding or painting it a different color would.

If you are unsure whether the work you have planned requires a CofA, contact Senior Planner Joelle Jordan at 512-218-5422.

Applying for a CofA 

The first step in applying for a CofA is to contact PDS staff for information about scheduling and what materials (paint samples etc.) to include with an application. Staff will also determine whether the project may qualify for a shorter administrative review process instead of standard review by the Historic Preservation Commission. There is no application fee.

Administrative (staff) review
Some minor exterior changes (e.g. paint color, replacing doors or light fixtures) may be reviewed by PDS staff, and is usually completed in a few days. Items eligible for staff review are listed in Section 46-99 (c) (2). Administrative review will be completed within 10 business days.

Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) review
Any other changes must be reviewed by the HPC, including changes in building or roof materials, changes in window size or style, restoration to an earlier condition, additions, relocation of an historic structure, relocation of any structure to an historic district, or demolition of all or part of an historic structure.

The application should be submitted to PDS at least two weeks before the HPC’s monthly meeting to allow time for staff analysis and recommendation, and distribution to the commissioners before the meeting.  At the meeting, PDS staff will present an overview of the proposal to the HPC. It is helpful for the applicant and/or their contractor to attend in order to answer questions about the project.

Notification & conditions
If approved, the CofA will be issued in the form of a notification letter listing the conditions under which the proposed work is considered appropriate, such as the name of the approved paint color or siding material. A copy of the letter is also sent to Building Inspection for use in evaluating building permits and inspection.

References

Certificate of Appropriateness application packet (pdf, updated 2018)
Designation of Historic Landmarks and Historic Districts (brochure, pdf)
Historic Design Guidelines for Residential Properties (pdf)
Historic Design Guidelines for Commercial Properties (pdf)
Sign & banner permits
Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) 2018 meeting schedule (pdf)
Code of Ordinances:
Section 46-99  Certificate of Appropriateness for building permit, exterior modification, or demolition
Section 46-99.1  Certificate of Appropriateness for relocating historic buildings or structures
Section 46-5  Definitions