City of Fredericksburg, VA
 
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[Amended 5-23-2017 by Ord. No. 17-13; 6-11-2019 by Ord. No. 19-24]
A. 
Purpose and applicability. This section sets forth the procedures for Architectural Review Board (ARB) consideration of applications for Certificates of Appropriateness in the Old and Historic Fredericksburg (HFD) Overlay Zoning District, pursuant to the authority conferred within Code of Virginia § 15.2-2306. A certificate of appropriateness is required for new construction, alterations of existing structures, demolitions/removal/relocation of structures, or a sign in the HFD.
B. 
Process: administrative review.
(1) 
The Zoning Administrator is authorized to approve, approve subject to conditions, or disapprove an application for a certificate of appropriateness, subject to the ARB's consent, for the following:
(a) 
The addition or deletion of awnings, canopies, storm doors, gutters, downspouts, chimney caps, and other similar minor modifications or elements.
(b) 
The addition, alteration, or removal of any sign or fence, where such item is the sole subject of the application, or where all other improvements comprising the application are subject to administrative review.
(c) 
Alterations or repairs made to a building or structure for the purpose of temporary emergency stabilization.
(d) 
Reconstruction, alteration, repair, or other improvements to a building or structure made pursuant to an order of correction issued by the Building Code Official, upon that official's determination that the building or structure is an "unsafe structure," as that term is defined in the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code.
(2) 
Administrative review procedure.
(a) 
The Zoning Administrator shall endeavor to make a decision on the application within 45 days, for timely ARB review and final decision. Every administrative decision to approve, approve with conditions, or deny an accepted application for a certificate of appropriateness, subject to ARB consent, shall be in writing and state the reasons therefor.
(b) 
Administrative review shall apply the applicable review criteria stated in this section.
(c) 
An administrative decision to approve, condition, or deny an application shall be submitted to the ARB for its consent, before the decision becomes final. The ARB may consent to the decision, modify the decision, or reverse the decision on an application.
(d) 
ARB consideration of administrative decisions does not require a public hearing, but may be carried out through the Board's consent agenda or under an appropriate agenda item, at any ARB meeting. The ARB decision on the application may be appealed to City Council under Subsection F, below.
(e) 
The ARB shall not decide an application for a certificate of appropriateness under the administrative review process until notice of intention to do so has been published once in a newspaper published or having general circulation in the City. The notice shall specify the time and place of the first ARB meeting at which persons affected may appear and present their views, not less than five days after the advertisement appears in the newspaper.
C. 
Process: review by the ARB.
(1) 
The ARB shall promptly review each application for a certificate of appropriateness.
(2) 
An applicant for a certificate of appropriateness shall submit to the ARB materials sufficient for it to render a decision on the criteria herein set forth. The ARB staff is authorized to reject any application that does not include information, at a minimum, to permit the ARB to evaluate the application with respect to the foregoing factors. The ARB may require additional submissions from the applicant if necessary.
(3) 
Except as provided for administrative review in Subsection B above, no certificate of appropriateness shall be approved until the ARB has held a public hearing with published and website notice under § 72-21.8. Applications for new construction shall also require written notice under § 72-21.8.
(4) 
Submittal requirements are contained in the UDO Procedures Manual.
(5) 
The ARB shall act to approve, approve with modification, or deny a request or application within 90 days of the official submission of the application. No certificate of appropriateness shall be granted except by a recorded affirmative vote of a majority of all members appointed to the ARB. The ARB staff shall memorialize the ARB's decision in writing, stating clearly how the Board applied the relevant standards to the application. The written decision shall be rendered and sent to the applicant within 14 days from the date of the decision.
D. 
Review criteria. In reviewing applications, the Zoning Administrator or the ARB shall consider only those design features subject to view from the public right-of-way (not to include alleys) or City-owned property and shall not make any requirements except for the purpose of encouraging development that is architecturally compatible with the historic landmarks, buildings or structures in the HFD.
(1) 
New construction. No principal or accessory building or structure shall be erected or reconstructed within the HFD, unless approved by the ARB as being architecturally compatible with the historic landmarks, buildings, or structures located therein. The ARB shall, in making its decisions, consider the characteristics of a proposed building or structure as they affect and relate to the district, including the following elements:
(a) 
Site planning (continuity of street edge, spacing between buildings, fences and walls, parking);
(b) 
Building scale (size, height, facade proportions);
(c) 
Building massing (form, roof shape, orientation);
(d) 
Roof (shape, pitch, overhang, dormers, skylights, chimneys);
(e) 
Windows (type, shape and proportion, rhythm and balance, blinds/shutters);
(f) 
Doorways (placement and orientation, type);
(g) 
Storefronts (materials, architectural details);
(h) 
Exterior architectural elements (entrances, porches and steps, cornices);
(i) 
Materials (wall surfaces, foundation, roof); and
(j) 
Miscellaneous details (trim, gutters and leaders, louvers/vents, lighting, public utilities).
(2) 
Alteration of an existing structure.
(a) 
No existing principal or accessory building or structure within the HFD shall be altered unless approved by the ARB as being architecturally compatible with the historic landmarks, buildings, and structures located therein. The ARB shall base its decisions on the criteria contained herein, which are similar to the United States Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation, as follows:
[1] 
Every reasonable effort shall be made to provide a compatible use for a property by requiring minimal alteration of the building, structure, or site and its environment, or by using a property for its originally intended purposes.
[2] 
The distinguishing original qualities or character of a building, structure, or site and its environment shall not be destroyed. The removal or alteration of any historical material or distinctive architectural features should be avoided when possible.
[3] 
Each property shall be recognized as a physical record of its time, place, and use. Changes that create a false sense of historical development or that have no historical basis shall be discouraged.
[4] 
Most properties change over time; those changes that have acquired historic significance in their own right should be retained and preserved. Restoration of original features may be permitted when substantiated by documentary, physical, or pictorial evidence.
[5] 
Distinctive stylistic features or examples of skilled craftsmanship which characterize a building, structure, or site shall be preserved.
[6] 
Deteriorated architectural features shall be repaired rather than replaced, wherever possible. If replacement is necessary, the new material should match the material being replaced in composition, design, color, texture, and other visual qualities. Where severity of deterioration requires replacement of a distinctive feature, the new feature shall match the old in design, color, texture, and other visual qualities and, where possible, materials. Replacement of missing features should be substantiated by documentary, physical, or pictorial evidence.
[7] 
The surface cleaning of structures shall be undertaken using the gentlest means possible. Sandblasting and other chemical or physical cleaning methods that cause damage to historic building materials shall not be undertaken.
[8] 
Every reasonable effort shall be made to protect and preserve archaeological resources affected by or adjacent to any project.
[9] 
Contemporary design for alterations and additions to existing properties shall not be discouraged when such alterations and additions do not destroy significant historical, architectural or cultural material, and such design is compatible with the size, scale, color, material, and character of the property, neighborhood or environment.
[10] 
New additions, alterations, and adjacent or related new construction shall be undertaken in such a manner that if removed in the future, the essential form and integrity of the historic property and its environment would be unimpaired.
(b) 
In conjunction with the standards referenced within Subsection D(1) above, the ARB shall consider the following review criteria:
[1] 
The mass and height of a building, and the nature of the roofline.
[2] 
The proportions between the height of a building, its bulk, and the nature of its roofline (i.e., is its appearance predominantly horizontal or vertical).
[3] 
The nature of the open spaces around buildings, including the extent of setbacks, the existence of any side yards and their size, and the continuity of such spaces along the street.
[4] 
The existence of trees and other landscaping, and the extent of paving.
[5] 
The nature of the openings in the facade (primarily doors and windows), and their location, size and proportions.
[6] 
The type of roof (flat, gabled, hip, gambrel, mansard, etc.).
[7] 
The nature of projections from the buildings, particularly porches.
[8] 
The nature of the architectural details and the predominant architectural style.
[9] 
The nature and texture of the materials.
[10] 
The details of ornamentation.
(c) 
For the purposes of this subsection, the term "alteration" includes, without limitation, additions proposed to an existing structure.
(3) 
Demolition, removal, or relocation.
(a) 
No historic landmark, building or structure within the HFD shall be razed, demolished, or moved until the razing, demolition or moving thereof is approved by the ARB. In determining the appropriateness of any application for the razing, demolition, or moving of a building or structure, the ARB shall consider the following criteria:
[1] 
The architectural significance of the building or structure.
[2] 
The historical significance of the building or structure.
[3] 
Whether a building or structure is linked, historically or architecturally, to other buildings or structures, so that their concentration or continuity possesses greater significance than the particular building or structure individually.
[4] 
The significance of the building or structure or its proposed replacement in furthering the Comprehensive Plan's goals.
[5] 
The condition and structural integrity of the building or structure, as indicated by documentation prepared by a qualified professional or licensed contractor, or other information, provided to the board for examination. The City Manager may obtain an assessment from a qualified professional or licensed contractor to assist the ARB or City Council in rendering a decision.
[6] 
Effect on surrounding properties.
[7] 
Inordinate hardship. This inquiry is concerned primarily with the relationship between the cost of repairing a building or structure and its reasonable value after repair. An inordinate hardship is an instance when preservation will deprive the owner of reasonable economic use of the property. Any hardship created by action of the applicant - including any condition resulting from the applicant's own neglect of the building or structure — shall not be considered in support of any application. To establish inordinate hardship under this section the applicant must submit evidence that rehabilitation of the building or structure is impractical, that the building or structure is inappropriate for the proposed use desired by the owner, and that the applicant cannot make reasonable economic use of the property. Such evidence may include proof of consideration of plans for adaptive reuse, and attempts to sell, rent or lease the property.
(b) 
In addition to the right of appeal set forth in Subsection F below, the owner of a historic landmark, building, or structure, the razing or demolition of which is subject to the provisions of this section, shall, as a matter of right, be entitled to raze or demolish such landmark, building, or structure, provided that the following three conditions are met:
[1] 
The owner has applied to the City Council for a demolition permit;
[2] 
The owner has, for the period of time set forth in the time schedule contained in this section and at a price reasonably related to its fair market value as determined by an independent appraisal, made a bona fide offer to sell such landmark, building, or structure and the land pertaining thereto to the City or to any entity which gives reasonable assurance that it is willing to preserve and restore the landmark, building, or structure and the land pertaining thereto. Unless the ARB and the owner agree upon the fair market value, the City Manager may retain one independent, qualified appraiser. If the independent appraisal does not resolve the disagreement, then the City and the owner shall retain a third qualified appraiser. A median value shall be established by the three appraisers, which shall be final and binding upon the owner and the City; and
[3] 
No bona fide contract, binding upon all parties thereto, shall have been executed for the sale of any such landmark, building, or structure and the land pertaining thereto, prior to the expiration of the applicable time period set forth in the time schedule contained in this section. Any appeal which may be taken to court from the decision of the City Council, whether instituted by the owner or by any other proper party, notwithstanding the provisions heretofore stated relating to a stay of the decision appealed from, shall not affect the right of the owner to make the bona fide offer to sell referred to in this subsection. No offer to sell shall be made more than one year after a final decision by the City Council, but thereafter the owner may renew his request to the City Council to approve the razing or demolition of the historic landmark, building, or structure. The time schedule for offers to sell shall be as follows:
[a] 
Three months when the offering price is less than $25,000;
[b] 
Four months when the offering price is $25,000 or more but less than $40,000;
[c] 
Five months when the offering price is $40,000 or more but less than $55,000;
[d] 
Six months when the offering price is $55,000 or more but less than $75,000;
[e] 
Seven months when the offering price is $75,000 or more but less than $90,000; and
[f] 
Twelve months when the offering price is $90,000 or more.
(4) 
Signs. In addition to the standards and criteria set forth within Subsections D(1) and (2) above, the Zoning Administrator and ARB shall consider the following in determining the appropriateness of any application for a sign proposed within the HFD:
(a) 
The sign shall be integrated architecturally with the building.
(b) 
Placement should not obscure significant architectural features or details of the building.
(c) 
All signs shall meet the requirements of § 72-59, Signage.
E. 
Certificate of appropriateness; effect; term of validity.
(1) 
A written decision of the ARB approving an application shall be deemed a "certificate of appropriateness." A certificate of appropriateness does not constitute general zoning approval for any use, building or structure, but is contingent upon the owner obtaining any other zoning approval required. A certificate of appropriateness does not constitute a building permit for any building or structure.
(2) 
A certificate of appropriateness issued under the provisions of this section shall expire two years after the date of such approval unless:
(a) 
A building or sign permit has been obtained and remains in effect; or
(b) 
Prior to the expiration date, upon written request, the Zoning Administrator shall grant an extension of a certificate of appropriateness which shall not exceed one year from the expiration date, limited to a maximum of two such extensions.
F. 
Appeals.
(1) 
Any person aggrieved by a decision of the ARB may appeal such decision to the City Council, provided that such appeal is filed in writing within 30 days from the date of the ARB's decision. The appeal shall clearly set forth the grounds of the appeal, including the procedure or standard alleged to have been violated or misapplied by the ARB. The City Council shall consult with the ARB in relation to any appeal and may require documentation of any ARB decision prior to hearing the appeal. On appeal, the City Council may consider additional submissions, and it may refer any additional information to the ARB for its consideration. The City Council may affirm, reverse, or modify the ARB's decision and shall transmit a record of its decision to the ARB. The City Council shall decide such appeal within 45 days of the date of the appeal.
(2) 
Any person aggrieved by a decision of the City Council may appeal such decision to the Circuit Court of the City by filing a petition at law setting forth the alleged illegality of the action of the City Council, provided such petition is filed within 30 days after the final decision is rendered by the City Council. The filing of the petition shall stay the decision of the City Council pending the outcome of the appeal to the Circuit Court, except that the filing of such petition shall not stay the decision of the City Council if such decision denies the right to raze or demolish an historic landmark, building, or structure. The court may reverse or modify the decision of the City Council, in whole or in part, if it finds upon review that the decision of the City Council is contrary to law or that its decision is arbitrary and constitutes an abuse of discretion, or it may affirm the decision of the City Council.
A. 
Purpose and applicability.
(1) 
The Gateway Corridor Overlay Districts require architectural and site design review for development and redevelopment of properties along designated entryways leading into the City's central business/historic district. Segments of the following roadways are within corridor overlay zoning districts: Cowan Boulevard, Fall Hill Avenue, Lafayette Boulevard, and Princess Anne Street. The intent is to preserve and enhance the aesthetic and historic values of the designated entryway.
(2) 
Single-family detached dwellings are exempt from corridor overlay design review, except for streetscape buffers, as contained in § 72-34.6 of this chapter.
B. 
Process.
[Amended 5-23-2017 by Ord. No. 17-13]
(1) 
Applications for corridor overlay design review shall be submitted to the Zoning Administrator for review.
(2) 
The Zoning Administrator shall consider those factors applicable to the specific corridor overlay within which the subject property is located.
(3) 
To initiate design review of development or redevelopment in a corridor overlay zoning district, the applicant shall provide the following materials, unless waived by the Zoning Administrator.
(a) 
New construction, facade changes, and accessory structures.
[1] 
Plat or map of property showing locations of proposed construction and/or changes, including building footprint;
[2] 
Drawing of elevations that are visible from a public right-of-way;
[3] 
Proposed materials; and
[4] 
Site features, including design and location of proposed parking lots, lighting, streetscape buffer, vehicular access, and landscaping.
(b) 
Fence.
[1] 
Plat or map of property showing fence location;
[2] 
Drawing of photograph of fence design; and
[3] 
Material and dimensions.
(c) 
Signs.
[1] 
Artist's rendition or photograph of proposed sign(s);
[2] 
Elevation(s) showing location of building mounted sign(s). Site map showing location of freestanding sign, with setbacks labeled; and
[3] 
Dimensions, materials, and other specifications.
(4) 
Public notice. The Zoning Administrator shall give notice of the application as required in § 72-21.9.
(5) 
Submittal requirements are contained in the Procedures Manual.
C. 
Review timing. The Zoning Administrator shall act to approve, approve with modification, or deny any request or application within 60 days of the official submission of the application. The Zoning Administrator shall memorialize his/her decision in writing and the Planning Office shall notify the applicant of the decision within 14 days. A notice of City action does not constitute general zoning approval for any structure, but is contingent upon the owner obtaining any other zoning approval required. A notice of City action issued under the provisions of this section shall expire one year after the date of such approval unless:
[Amended 5-23-2017 by Ord. No. 17-13]
(1) 
A building or sign permit has been obtained and work begun; or
(2) 
An extension has been granted by the Zoning Administrator, as appropriate, which shall not exceed six months.
D. 
Review criteria. The Zoning Administrator shall use the criteria specified in § 72-34.6 of this chapter to review applications for design review for development/redevelopment within specified Gateway Corridor Overlay Districts. This section contains criteria applicable to all corridor overlays as well as additional standards for specific corridors.
[Amended 5-23-2017 by Ord. No. 17-13]
E. 
Appeals.
[Amended 5-23-2017 by Ord. No. 17-13]
(1) 
The applicant may appeal the Zoning Administrator's decision to the City Council, provided such appeal is filed in writing within 30 days from the date of the Zoning Administrator's decision. The appeal shall clearly set forth the grounds of the appeal, including the procedure or standard alleged to have been violated or misapplied by the Zoning Administrator. The City Council shall consult with the Zoning Administrator in relation to any appeal and may require documentation of any decision prior to hearing the appeal. The City Council may affirm, reverse, or modify the Zoning Administrator's decision. The City Council shall decide such appeal within 45 days of the date of the appeal.
(2) 
The applicant may appeal the City Council's decision to the Circuit Court of the City by filing a petition at law setting forth the alleged illegality of the action of the City Council, provided such petition is filed within 30 days after the final decision is rendered by the City Council. The filing of the petition shall stay the decision of the City Council pending the outcome of the appeal to the Circuit Court. The court may reverse or modify the decision of the City Council, in whole or in part, if it finds upon review that the decision of the City Council is contrary to law or that its decision is arbitrary and constitutes an abuse of discretion, or it may affirm the decision of the City Council.