CHAP is pursuing a new type of historic designation and needs YOUR input!
The Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) is pursuing the creation of a Historic Conservation District program for the City of Baltimore. Over the past several years, the Commission has heard from many community associations that are interested in historic designation that is less stringent in design review requirements than the current local historic district designation, and this is the Commission’s proposed solution. The Commission is seeking testimony from neighborhood associations, preservation advocates, citizens, and other stakeholders on ideas about creating this program.
At the October 10, 2023 CHAP hearing, CHAP staff will present a report on conservation districts including how they are used by other local municipalities throughout the country, and how a conservation district program might function in Baltimore. At the hearing, the Commission will take public testimony on the proposal to create this program. People may also submit their testimony ahead of time via email or letter.
After the October hearing, CHAP staff will develop a draft conservation district program that considers and incorporates comments from stakeholders. A draft conservation district program will be presented to the Commission at future hearings within the next few months for Commission review and approval. Once a draft of the program is approved by CHAP, staff will work with the Mayor and City Council to introduce enabling legislation. There will be multiple opportunities for public comment throughout the process, and each public hearing will be advertised.
What is a Historic Conservation District?
Historic conservation districts have a concentration of historically significant structures that together create a unique historic character for neighborhoods that is worthy of preservation for future generations. A historic conservation district protects its historic character through a CHAP-administered design review process for new construction, demolition, and limited types of alterations. This is different from the level of review for local historic districts and Baltimore City Landmarks, where all exterior changes are reviewed and approved by CHAP. The proposed design review for conservation districts is less restrictive than design review for local historic districts and Baltimore City Landmarks.
CHAP staff conducted a study of conservation districts in 2018, which you can read here. Another study completed by Jessie McClurg with the University of Minnesota in 2011 is available here.
CHAP staff will add more resources to this page as the process moves forward.
What are the proposed benefits of a Historic Conservation District?
- Preserve and protect the overall historic character of a district.
- Provide a public forum for community input for new construction, demolition and major alterations.
- Eligibility of properties in conservation districts to apply for historic preservation tax credits.
How Would Historic Conservation Districts be Created?
- The establishment of Conservation Districts would be initiated by the community.
- CHAP staff would work with the community on extensive and iterative community outreach effort to gain support from property owners in that area.
- CHAP staff would work with a community to establish boundaries for each Historic Conservation District, identify the character-defining features of the district, and create a report establishing the historic significance of the area and what specific types of alterations would require review and approval by CHAP.
- The designation process would require two public hearings of the CHAP Commission to review and approve the establishment of a Historic Conservation District. Upon approval of the Commission at a public hearing, CHAP staff would work with Mayor and City Council to introduce an ordinance to establish the Historic Conservation District. A Historic Conservation District would only be established if the legislation is approved by the Mayor and City Council.
How to Provide Input into the Process
There are several ways to submit your comments to CHAP:
- Send an email to CHAP Executive Director Eric Holcomb at: Eric.Holcomb@Baltimorecity.gov
- Send a letter to: The Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation
Attn: Eric Holcomb
417 E. Fayette Street, 8th floor
Baltimore, MD 21202
- Testify in person at the October 10, 2023, CHAP Hearing located in the Phoebe Stanton Board Room, 417 East Fayette Street, 8th Floor.
- There will be additional opportunities for providing input as this public process moves forward, and these opportunities for public comment will be advertised on the CHAP website.
For more information, please contact Eric.Holcomb@baltimorecity.gov