Cultural Resources Review FAQ's

When do I need a permit?
If your property is located in a City Historic District, you will need a permit for ALL exterior work, except painting wood trim.

Why do I need a permit for this work?
Citizens of the historic district where your property is located have sponsored a local ordinance with design standards that regulate what can be done to building exteriors in the district. Every district has its own unique standards. The Cultural Resources Office reviews permit applications to ensure that proposed work complies with those standards.
Check the Standards for your district.

Work in Progress

Many owners or contractors are unfamiliar with proper methods for maintaining historic property. The Cultural Resources staff is experienced in historic building maintenance and historic design. They are happy to advise owners on appropriate rehabilitation and maintenance of their property so that it retains its architectural distinction and ensures its future value.
Contact the CRO staff.

When is a CRO permit required?
Work that does not require a Building Permit is regulated by the Historic District Standards. For example:

  • window replacement
  • door replacement
  • exterior painting of stone, brick, terra cotta or concrete
  • gutters and downspouts
  • window and door replacement
  • repair or replacement of decorative trim
  • repointing (sometimes called "tuckpointing")
  • exterior lighting fixtures and conduit
  • awnings and canopies
  • street furniture
  • on-premise sidewalks and drives

What happens if I don't get a permit?
You may be stopped by an inspector, and all work must cease immediately until a permit is obtained.  You may also receive a citation letter from the Cultural Resources Office, and you will have 30 days from the receipt of the citation to apply for a permit.  If you fail to apply for a permit or do not contact the Office, after 30 days, your project will be referred to Housing Court.

Where do I apply for a permit?
All permits are applied for in the Building Division Permit Section, Room 425, City Hall, 1200 Market Street. If your property is in a City Historic District and you plan to do exterior work, the Building Division will automatically refer your application to the Cultural Resources Office, unless it has been previously reviewed, stamped and signed by CRO. Rehabilitation or new construction projects outside City Historic Districts are not reviewed by the Office.

How long will it take?
Some permits, like fences, rear decks, trim repair and repointing may be approved over the counter by visiting the CRO Hotspot. Other permits may need more time because we must ask for additional information, or plans must be changed to comply with the Historic District Standards.  Occasionally, the CRO staff must visit the site.  Most permits, however, are approved within 5 working days.

For large development projects or projects that cannot comply with the Standards, the project will be scheduled for a hearing before the Preservation Board, which meets the fourth Monday of each month.  You should factor this into your project scheduling.


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