The State has eased some restrictions previously in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the current impact to City programs and services here. Please note that City offices are currently open on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9 a.m. to noon and on Thursday and Friday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Your property is considered historic if it is a contributing part of a National Register Historic District, it is located in the College View Local Historic District, or it is an officially designated Local Landmark. The Historic Preservation Commission may periodically nominate properties and/or neighborhoods to be included in the National Register of Historic Places or to be designated as Local Landmarks or Local Historic Districts. Please contact the Greenville Historic Preservation Commission to verify if your property is designated as historic.
What does it mean if my house is located in National Register Historic District?
Owning a property in a National Register Historic District bestows upon a private property owner benefits but does not place any restrictions on what the owner may do to his or her property. Owners of properties in a National Register Historic District may be eligible to apply for federal & state tax credits for the qualifying rehabilitation of income producing and/or non-income producing properties. Contact the State Historic Preservation Office for more information on these credits.
What are the benefits of owning an historic property?
Many property owners enjoy the sense of pride, prestige, and connection to history associated with owning an historic property. There are many tangible benefits of owning an historic property as well. Owners of properties in a National Register Historic District may be eligible to apply for federal tax credits for the qualifying rehabilitation of income producing properties. The State of North Carolina authorizes a 10-15% credit for those taxpayers who receive the federal credit, providing investors with a combined 30-35% credit against eligible project costs.
In addition, the state provides a 15% credit for the rehabilitation of non-income-producing historic properties, including private residences. In the Local Historic District, Design Guidelines encourage the purchase and rehabilitation of properties because investors can be confident that attractiveness of the surrounding neighborhood will be maintained. In general, historic areas tend to be attractive, human-scaled, walkable, and well-maintained.
Where can I find a full copy of the Greenville preservation Ordinance?
The full ordinance is on file for your review at the Planning Office in the Greenville Municipal Building at 201 West 5th Street or on the web at www.amlegal.com and searching for Greenville, NC.
Are there any special requirements that I maintain my property?
All property owners in Greenville are already required by ordinance to maintain their properties. Owners of Local Landmarks or properties located in the College View Historic District have a special responsibility to maintain their unique properties. Owners are entitled to a public hearing on matters involving failure to maintain their property, just as they are entitled under other Greenville ordinances.
Will I get a plaque?
At this time the City of Greenville does not provide markers for historic properties. Properties that are on the National Register of Historic Places are eligible for markers and are purchased by the property owner.
Do I have to open my house to the public?
No. There is absolutely no requirement to open your property to the public. In the past there have been historic open house tours, but participation was strictly voluntary.
Will I have difficulty selling my house?
No, historic designation will not make it any more difficult to sell your house in normal market conditions than a non-designated house. A historic structure which is kept in good condition often commands a higher price in the real estate market. Many people will pay a premium for the prestige of owning an older historic home.
What if I want to demolish my property?
Owners of all properties in the City must obtain a demolition permit from the building inspector before demolishing any part of a structure. Historic properties must also first obtain approval from the HPC, which may delay the demolition permit for up to 365 days while other options are evaluated.
Will I be required to do anything to my property? What can’t I do to it?
At the moment your property is designated, you will not be required to make any changes to alter the exterior of your property. You can continue to maintain your property as you have been. However, after designation if you decide to make any changes to the exterior (especially additions or demolition) these changes will require prior approval from the HPC before applying for any building permits. Guidelines are given in Design Guidelines, which are based on the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.
It is not necessary to have HPC approval for any interior alterations, or for normal repairs that do not affect the exterior appearance of the house (such as repainting the same color or re-roofing with the same material).
Will I have to alter the building to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not apply to structures used for residential purposes. The act applies only to structures used for commercial purposes, regardless of the property’s historical status. Non-residential uses in all commercially zoned areas must comply with the American Disabilities Act (ADA), which has special provisions for historic structures.
Will this change my current base zoning?
No. Base zoning specifies the permitted uses of a property (commercial, office, residential, etc.) and some basic size and parking requirements. All historic properties will keep their current base zoning and are still subject to relevant ordinances. The purpose of the designation is to preserve historic and architectural structures; not to control the use of the structure or property.
Can I lease out my house?
Yes. Any previous legal use of the property permitted under its base zoning district is still allowed.
Is the inside of my property regulated?
No. The interior design, interior renovation and use of a designated structure are not affected by historic overlay zoning.
Can I renovate my property?
The HPC encourages historically appropriate restoration! One of the purposes of the historic tax exemption is to encourage appropriate restoration and maintenance of historic properties. However, any changes to the exterior (especially additions), must be approved by the HPC before obtaining any building permits, in order to verify that proposed changes are historically appropriate. Guidelines are given in Design Guidelines.
It is not necessary to have HPC approval for any interior alterations, or for normal repairs that do not affect the exterior appearance of the house (such as repainting the same color or re-roofing with the same material). Please contact Planning staff with any questions.
Will my yard be affected?
Yes, landscaping may be subject to HPC review. The addition of any structural elements, such as fencing, lighting, and hardscaping must be approved prior to commencing installation. Plantings and softscape do not need to be reviewed by the HPC.
Will my storage shed (or other out-buildings) be affected?
Unless they are designated as historic, existing permanent accessory structures are not required to meet historic design standards. Any new additions or renovations to these structures, however, must be approved by the HPC and be consistent with the Design Guidelines.
Will my pets be affected?
No, restrictions on animals within the City limits are not changed due to historic overlay zoning, and are subject to the same regulations everywhere in the city.
Are there local, state or federal grants or loans available for renovations?
Greenville offers assistance in the form of a Historic Preservation Loan for designated properties or a Façade Improvement Grant for those properties in the Uptown area. Any exterior additions or renovations must be approved by the HPC before building permits can be issued, and must be consistent with the Design Guidelines. Please contact Planning staff with any questions.
At the federal level, the National Park Service and Internal Revenue Service, in partnership with the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office, offer tax incentives to encourage restoration.
Will historic overlay zoning cause my taxes to increase?
No. While the value of the property may increase due to rehabilitation or increased market interest, historic overlay zoning will not cause your taxes to increase. Owners of designated Local Landmarks are eligible for a 50% property tax deferral as long as their property is maintain according to the standards in the Design Guidelines.
Won’t Greenville lose tax revenue because of tax breaks for historic properties?
Although in the short term there is a slight decrease in revenue due to the Local Landmark tax exemption, in the long term historic designation tends to increase the value of the surrounding area. Historic preservation in commercial areas helps improve retail conditions (and sales taxes), and cities with well-preserved historic areas are often more attractive to major employers. There is also a non-monetary benefit in neighborhood revitalization, the preservation of local history and a charm and character often lacking in new construction.
Will historic overlay zoning decrease my property’s value?
No. The value of a designated historic structure usually increases because many buyers appreciate historic properties (and anticipate a tax break). The designation can spur re-investment and often increases property values in an entire neighborhood.
Do I need a permit to perform work on my property?
By law, the Greenville Historic Preservation Commission must review any proposals for alterations to Local Landmarks or properties in College View Historic District and determine whether they have any effect on the significant features of a building or a historic district. Any effect must be harmonious or appropriate. When in doubt if your work needs approval, please contact the Planning Department staff.
Any exterior work that is visible from a public right-of-way that alters or involves a change of existing materials and is not normal upkeep and maintenance (i.e. replacing wood siding with synthetic siding, painting unpainted brick, installing new windows) requires a permit, referred to as a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA). Demolition and new construction as well as installation of fencing or a wall on the grounds of the property also requires a COA.
Permits are required for businesses wishing to put up new signs, even if it is behind the glass in a window, or to install or recover awnings as well as for other more permanent forms of signage and exterior lighting.
Do I need a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) to make repairs to my house or grounds?
Repairs or minor changes that will not significantly alter the historic character of any structures or grounds of a Local Landmark or property in the Local Historic District require only a Minor Works COA. For example, repair or replacement of original but deteriorated wood siding, asphalt shingles, or brick mortar joints with in-kind materials is encouraged and does not require a COA or public hearing. See: list of repairs that require only a Minor Works COA.
When do I need to apply for a COA?
Owners of Local Landmarks or properties in the Local Historic District are required to obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness before beginning any type of exterior construction, alteration, or demolition to a property, including changes that might significantly alter the historic character of any structures or the grounds. A COA requires a public hearing before the Historic Preservation Commission. A COA is not required for work done to the interior of a structure unless that work will affect the exterior appearance of that structure.
What is the COA application procedure?
Applications must comply with local zoning codes. Applications must be filled out, signed by the owner, and submitted with documentation and architectural plans as required. Guidelines for the submission are given in the Application.
A $50 Major Works or $20 Minor Works application fee is due with the application.
Applications may be turned in at any time of the month and are then reviewed for completeness by the HPC staff. The applications may be subject to a final review by the Design Review subcommittee of the HPC. Additional information may be requested. Once an application is deemed complete, the HPC staff will contact the applicant and give Notice of the Hearing.
How does the public hearing work?
Public Hearings before the Greenville Historic Preservation Commission begin at 6:00 pm on the fourth Tuesday of each month. The meetings are typically held in the City Council Chambers on the third floor of the Greenville City Hall located at 200 West Fifth Street. You will be informed of the completeness of your application and the exact time and place of your hearing two weeks prior to the hearing.
An applicant, architect or representative’s attendance is necessary at the public hearing to represent your application. If you are presenting architectural drawings, you will be asked to mount important drawings (elevations or sections) on boards for the hearing to aid in the discussion. If you have presented past schemes, those boards must be represented for comparison purposes, so the Commissioners understand what has changed.
At the hearing, HPC staff may help you present your application to the Commission and then Commissioners will ask direct questions regarding your application. It is often helpful to have a professional on hand to answer questions if you do not fully understand the logistics of installation or construction and the nature of the proposed materials.
The HPC may decide to approve, approve with conditions, or deny your application if it is determined that additional information is necessary. Applications that are held over will receive first priority as “Old Business” at future meetings. Interim sub-committee meetings with HPC staff may meet prior to returning with your application before the Commission.
How long will it take to obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness?
A decision will be made as quickly as possible, but within a maximum of 60 days after the completed application has been referred to the Commission, unless a mutually agreed-upon extension is granted.
After I have obtained a Certificate of Appropriateness, can I begin work on my property?
Yes. The property owner can proceed immediately, provided any and all required permits and certificates have been obtained from the City of Greenville and any conditions of permitting are followed.
Can I appeal the Commission’s decision?
Yes. If a property owner does not agree with the findings of the Commission, she/he may appeal to the Board of Adjustment. Thereafter, the owner can appeal through the courts of North Carolina.
Are there any penalties for violating provisions of the ordinance?
Yes. Any activity that violates the provisions of the Ordinance must be stopped immediately. The property owner must then apply to the Commission for approval and take any steps necessary to preserve the property while the approval is pending. If a historic property is threatened with imminent harm by the actions of an owner who continues to violate the Ordinance, the City may apply to the courts to stop the activity. There are also fines which may be levied against owners following their conviction for a violation of the Ordinance.
Contact Preservation Planner Collette Kinane in the Planning Department at 252-329-4486 for any questions about historic preservation and historic overlay zoning.