Borough of Phoenixville, PA
Chester County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents

§ 12-101 Statement of Purpose.

[Ord. 2232, 5/13/2014, § I]
In order to promote the economic and general welfare of the people of the Borough of Phoenixville and of the public in general and to ensure the harmonious, orderly and efficient growth and development of the municipality, it is deemed essential by the Borough Council of the Borough of Phoenixville that the qualities relating to the Borough of Phoenixville and the harmonious outward appearance of structures, all of which preserve property values and attract tourists and residents alike, shall be preserved. Some of these qualities shall be manifested in the continued existence and preservation of historic areas and buildings, as well as the continued construction of buildings in historic styles and general harmony, relating style, form, color, proportion, texture and material between buildings of historic design and those of a more modern design. Such purpose shall be advanced through the preservation and protection of the old historic district, architecturally worthy structures, and landscape features, as well as the quaint neighborhoods, which impart a distinct aspect and character to the Borough of Phoenixville, and which serve as visible reminders of the historical and cultural heritage of the Borough of Phoenixville, the commonwealth, and the nation.

§ 12-102 General Provisions.

[Ord. 2232, 5/13/2014, § I]
1. 
Definition of Historic District. A legal description of the Historic District shall be attached to and made a part of this Chapter.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: The legal description of the Historic District is on file in the Borough offices.
2. 
Historic District Map. The boundaries of the Historic District shall be shown on a map attached to and made a part of this Chapter.[2]
[2]
Editor's Note: The Historic District Map is on file in the Borough offices.
3. 
Downtown Historic District. The boundaries of the Downtown Historic District shall be shown on a map attached to and made a part of this Chapter. This Downtown Historic District shall be comprised of certain parts of the Town Center District (TC) and Mixed Use Growth District (MG) as shown on the Historic District Map which is made a part of this Chapter. The Downtown Historic District shall comprise a portion of the Historic District; however, the boundaries of the entire Historic District shall be as set forth in this Subsection and map incorporated herein.
4. 
Uses allowed in the District. Any structure or property located within the Historic District may be used as so permitted in the zoning district or districts as set forth in this Chapter.[3]
[3]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 27, Zoning.

§ 12-103 Compliance.

[Ord. 2232, 5/13/2014, § I]
1. 
No structure located within the Downtown Historic District shall be erected, altered, restored, demolished or razed, whether in whole or in part, unless and until a certificate of appropriateness, as hereinafter provided, has been issued by the Borough Council.
2. 
No sign located within the Downtown Historic District shall be erected, altered or modified, whether in whole or in part, unless and until a certificate of appropriateness, as hereinafter provided, has been issued by the Borough Council.
3. 
No fence or landscape architectural feature located within the Downtown Historic District shall be erected, altered or modified, whether in whole or in part, unless and until a certificate of appropriateness, as hereinafter provided, has been issued by the Borough Council.
4. 
Exceptions. A certificate of appropriateness shall not be required by the Borough for the following:
[Amended by Ord. 2016-2262, 5/10/2016[1]]
A. 
Repainting of a painted existing building or feature.
B. 
Interior modifications or alterations.
C. 
Maintenance or repair in kind (i.e., same materials, same detailing).
D. 
Alterations or modifications not visible from public street or way.
E. 
Temporary emergency repairs (subject to future review by the Historical Architectural Review Board).
[1]
Editor's Note: This ordinance also provided for the redesignation of former Subsection 3A as Subsection 4.

§ 12-104 Historical Architectural Review Board.

[Ord. 2232, 5/13/2014, § I]
1. 
Appointment. Upon receipt of the certifying resolution of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, the Borough Council shall appoint an Historical Architectural Review Board (HARB).
2. 
Membership and terms.
A. 
The HARB shall be composed of seven members. One member of the Board shall be a registered architect, one member shall be a licensed real estate broker, one member shall be a Borough Staff Building Inspector, one member shall be a structural engineer or qualified building contractor, and the three remaining members shall be persons with knowledge of and interest in the preservation of historic districts.
B. 
Except in the case of the Borough Staff Building Inspector, an HARB member must be a resident, property owner, or conduct business within the Borough of Phoenixville.
C. 
HARB members shall be appointed by a majority vote of the Borough Council.
D. 
The terms for the HARB members shall be for four years excepting the Planning Commission member, who will follow that member's term in office or as appointed. The initial term of the remaining five members of the HARB shall be as follows: one member for one year, one member for two years, one member for three years, and two members for four years.
E. 
There shall be no limit to the consecutive terms that can be served by members of the HARB; however, the Borough Council may, after a duly advertised public hearing, remove any member of the HARB from office for inefficiency, neglect of duty, malfeasance in office or conflict of interest.
F. 
Vacancies on the HARB for unexpired terms and for full terms shall be filled as provided in Subsection 1 above, from a list of two nominees provided by a) the remaining members of the HARB, b) the Historical Society of the Phoenixville area, and c) the Borough Manager's office.
G. 
The members of the HARB shall serve without compensation; however, members may be reimbursed for expenses necessarily incurred in order to carry out the objectives of the HARB and when those expenses are deemed necessary and appropriate and are approved by the Borough Council.
3. 
Organization.
A. 
The HARB shall elect its own Chairman, Vice Chairman and Secretary and shall create and fill such other offices as deemed proper and necessary. Officers shall serve annual terms and may succeed themselves.
B. 
The HARB shall make and alter its written rules of procedure consistent with the ordinances of the Borough and the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and shall submit to the Borough Council said rules for Council's approval.
C. 
The HARB Secretary shall keep minutes of its meetings and records of its resolutions, transactions, findings and determinations, and such minutes and records shall be considered public records.
D. 
A majority of the HARB shall constitute a quorum, and any action taken at any meeting shall require the affirmative vote of a majority of the HARB members present.
4. 
Duties:
A. 
To process an application for a certificate of appropriateness, as may be required pursuant to this Chapter.
B. 
To give counsel to the Borough Council regarding the advisability of issuing certificates of appropriateness.
C. 
To promulgate and publish such standards as are necessary to supplement the provisions of this Chapter and to inform residents, property owners, and the general public of those criteria by which applications for certificates of appropriateness are to be measured.
D. 
To prepare regular reports of its activities for the Borough Council, as well as specific reports as may from time to time be requested by the Borough Council.
E. 
To cooperate with all Borough officials and agencies in relation to the preservation and restoration of historic structures and sites, including possible acquisition and use of the same by the Borough.
F. 
To consider, promote and, with the approval of the Borough Council, apply for technical and financial assistance from all appropriate local, county, state and federal agencies, as well as any other agencies, for the preservation of significant architecture and natural and historic sites within the Borough of Phoenixville, and to report all related action to the Borough Council.
G. 
To prepare and submit a yearly budget to the Borough Council for sums deemed necessary to carry out the objectives of the Borough.
H. 
To assist in the detection of violations of the provisions of this Chapter.
I. 
To provide technical support used in the enforcement of the provisions of this Chapter, as well as the prosecution of violations hereunder.
5. 
Certificate of appropriateness.
A. 
A certificate of appropriateness may be issued by the Borough Council after receiving a recommendation from the Historical Architectural Review Board or 45 days from the date the application for a certificate of appropriateness is received by the Borough Zoning Officer, whichever is first. The HARB's recommendation, if one is received, shall not be binding upon the Borough Council. No fence, building or sign permit shall be issued within the defined Downtown Historic District without a receipt of a certificate of appropriateness, if one is required under this Chapter.
6. 
Duties of the Borough Zoning Officer upon receipt of the application for certificate of appropriateness for exterior work. Upon receipt of an application for certificate of appropriateness, as required by this Chapter for work to be done in the Downtown Historic District, the Borough Zoning Officer or designee shall act in accordance with the following procedures:
A. 
He/she shall forward to the office of the Historical Architectural Review Board two copies of the application for a certificate of appropriateness, one for the HARB's office file, and one to circulate among members of the HARB. The application shall also include a copy of the plot plan and the building plans, as well as specifications filed by the applicant. In addition, the HARB may request elevation drawings of any modifications. The Borough Zoning Officer shall forward this material to the HARB within three days of receipt of the application. The HARB and the Borough may define the information advisable for the applicant to submit for proper review of the application and shall inform the applicant that additional information may be requested if necessary.
B. 
He/she shall forward to the Borough Council one copy of the application for a certificate of appropriateness, and copies of the plans and specifications filed with the application.
C. 
He/she shall forward to the Building Inspector one copy of the application for a certificate of appropriateness.
D. 
He/she shall maintain, in the Borough building, a record of all such applications, as well as his/her handling and final disposition of the same, which shall be in addition to and appropriately cross-referenced to his/her other records.
7. 
Materials to be submitted with an application for a certificate of appropriateness or a building or demolition permit in the Phoenixville Downtown Historic District. This subsection shall be construed less strictly as to the form of such building plans and specifications submitted by an individual homeowner desiring to effect minor improvements to his property, provided that the Board is satisfied that the minimum necessary information described below is included therein.
A. 
Drawings of all proposed construction or alteration of structures which shall include exterior elevations and dimensions, sufficient detail to show the architectural design of the proposed construction, and the proposed exterior materials and colors.
B. 
A plot plan or site plan showing property lines, existing and proposed buildings and structures and proposed and existing landscape features (trees, shrubbery, elevations).
C. 
Photographs.
(1) 
Applications for demolition of historic buildings or structures: legible photographs showing all sides of the building(s) under consideration and any interior shots which relate the state of disrepair or substantiate the need for demolition.
(2) 
Applications for construction and/or alteration: legible photographs showing all elevations of existing buildings and views of the site from public streets and ways. Compass direction of camera should be noted for each view.
8. 
Meeting of the Historical Architectural Review Board.
A. 
The HARB shall meet twice monthly at regularly scheduled meetings (times and dates shall be established and published annually) unless there is no business to conduct. The required material shall be submitted by the applicant to the Borough Zoning Officer no less than 15 days prior to the regularly scheduled meeting.
B. 
Consideration of appropriateness.
(1) 
The HARB, in considering the appropriateness of any erection, reconstruction, alteration, restoration, demolition, or razing of any building or structure, shall consider, among other things, the following:
(a) 
The purpose of this Chapter.
(b) 
The historical and architectural value and significance of the building or structure.
(c) 
The design, arrangement, texture, material and color of the building or structure in question, or its appurtenant fixtures (including signs), insomuch as these features are visible from any public street or way.
(d) 
The relationship of such building or structure in relation to the street or public way, as well as to other buildings or structures.
(2) 
The HARB shall not consider any matters not pertinent to the preservation of the historic aspect and nature of the district.
C. 
If the applicant files and receives an approved Historic Preservation Certification from the United States Department of the Interior National Park Service, the HARB shall advise in favor of granting a certificate of appropriateness. Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of the United States Department of the Interior National Park Service Certification shall be filed with the Borough, and become part of the applicant's file.
D. 
If the HARB, on the basis of the information received at the meeting, from the information submitted, and from its general background and knowledge, decides to advise in favor of granting a certificate of appropriateness, it shall so notify the applicant, in writing and within five working days, of its recommendation.
E. 
If the HARB, on the basis of the information received at the meeting, and from its general background and knowledge, decides to advise against the granting of a certificate of appropriateness, it shall also notify the applicant, in writing and within five working days, of its recommendation.
F. 
The HARB, after following the procedures set forth above, shall submit to the Borough Council, in writing, its advice concerning the issuance of a certificate of appropriateness, as required by this Chapter. The written report shall include the following:
(1) 
The opinion of the HARB (including any dissent) as to the appropriateness of the work proposed as it will preserve or destroy the historic aspect and nature of the District.
(2) 
The changes in the plans or specifications, if any, which in the opinion of the HARB would protect the distinctive character of the District.
(3) 
The specific advice of the HARB to issue or refuse a certificate of appropriateness.
G. 
If the HARB, on the basis of information received at the meeting, from the information submitted, and from its general background and knowledge, decides the information does not adequately describe the work to be undertaken or if revisions are necessary to meet the requirements of this Chapter, the Board shall notify the applicant during its scheduled meeting and place the applicant on the HARB agenda for the next regularly scheduled HARB meeting for continued review.
H. 
In the event the Historical Architectural Review Board does not act in accordance with the procedures set forth above, the application shall be referred to the Borough Council without recommendation from the HARB and it shall be presumed by the Borough Council that the application was approved without amendment.

§ 12-105 Consideration Before Borough Council.

[Ord. 2232, 5/13/2014, § I]
1. 
Upon receipt of the Historical Architectural Review Board's recommendations or 45 days from the date the application for a certificate of appropriateness is received by the Borough Zoning Officer, whichever is first, the Borough Council shall consider at its next scheduled public meeting, or the one thereafter, if the next would make five working days' notice to the applicant impossible, the question of issuing a certificate of appropriateness for the work covered by the application. The applicant shall be given five working days' notice by the Borough Zoning Officer, or his/her designee, of the time and place of the meeting at which his/her application will be considered and he/she shall have the right to attend and be heard regarding his/her application. Within those five working days, the applicant has the right to request a change of date if it is impossible for him/her to attend the meeting proposed by the Borough.
2. 
In determining whether or not to issue a certificate of appropriateness, the Borough Council shall consider, among other factors, the report of the HARB if one is submitted. If the Borough Council approves the application, it shall issue a certificate of appropriateness authorizing the work covered. The certificate of appropriateness also authorizes the Building Inspector or Zoning Officer to issue any necessary permits for the work covered if this work complies with all other applicable requirements. If the Borough Council disapproves the application, the decision shall indicate what changes in the plans and specifications would be necessary to meet the conditions for protecting the distinctive character of the structure, site or area certified to have historical significance within the District and for protecting the historical environment of the District, as a whole. The Borough Council must render its decision at a public meeting. This decision shall be communicated, in writing, to the applicant, the Historical Architectural Review Board, the Building Inspector, the Zoning Officer, and the Pennsylvania Historical Museum Commission within 10 days of the decision. In the event the Borough Council does not tender its decision to the applicant within 10 days of the date the decision was rendered at a public meeting, it shall be deemed that the Borough Council has decided in favor of the applicant and a certificate of appropriateness shall thereupon be issued. The time limits provided for in this Section may be extended by agreement of the parties, in writing.
3. 
Disapproval of application. Upon receipt of the written disapproval of the Borough Council, the Building Inspector and/or Zoning Officer shall disapprove any application for a building or sign permit required for the work covered. In addition, any proposed work defined by the application for the certificate of appropriateness shall not be carried out.

§ 12-106 Appeals.

[Ord. 2232, 5/13/2014, § I]
Any decision of the Borough Council under this Chapter granting or denying a certificate of appropriateness shall be subject to review and appeal to the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County in the same manner and within the same time limitation as is provided for zoning appeals by the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, Act of July 31, 1968, P.L. 805, and as amended, 53 P.S. § 11001-A, et seq.

§ 12-107 Enforcement.

[Ord. 2232, 5/13/2014, § I]
1. 
In case any building or structure is erected, reconstructed, altered, restored, demolished or razed in violation of this Chapter, the Bureau of Inspections or other agency charged with the issuance of permits for the erection, demolition, or alteration of buildings shall promptly stop all work at the site.
2. 
The Bureau of Inspections or other agency charged with the issuance of permits for the erection, demolition or alteration of buildings shall have the power to institute any proceedings, at law or in equity, necessary for the enforcement of this Chapter, or in the same manner as in its enforcement of other building, zoning, or planning legislation or regulations.
3. 
HARB members shall assist the Bureau of Inspections in detecting violations under this Chapter, and shall provide the Bureau with such technical support and/or evidence as may be necessary for its enforcement.
4. 
The imposition of any penalty hereunder shall not preclude the Borough or any proper person from instituting any proper action or proceeding to require compliance with the provisions of this Chapter and with the administrative orders and determinations made hereunder.

§ 12-108 Appropriations.

[Ord. 2232, 5/13/2014, § I]
The Borough Council may appropriate from the general Borough funds such funds as may be necessary and available for the work of the HARB in the year for which the appropriation is made.

§ 12-109 Violations and Penalties.

[Ord. 2232, 5/13/2014, § I]
1. 
Any person, partnership or corporation who or which has violated or permitted the violation of provisions of this Chapter shall, upon being found liable in a civil enforcement proceeding commenced by the Borough, pay a judgment of not more than $600 plus all court costs, including reasonable attorneys' fees incurred by the Borough as a result thereof. No judgment shall commence or be imposed, levied or payable until the date of the determination of a violation by the District Justice. If the defendant neither pays nor timely appeals the judgment, the Borough may enforce the judgment pursuant to the applicable rules of civil procedure. Each day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate violation unless the District Justice determines otherwise.
2. 
In addition to or in lieu of enforcement of this Chapter through a civil action as provided for in Subsection 1 above, the Borough may enforce this Chapter through an equity action in the Chester County Court of Common Pleas.