Major Work COA applications are reviewed by the COA Committee of the Raleigh Historic Development Commission (RHDC) in a quasi-judicial evidentiary hearing held once per month.
The COA Committee typically meets on the fourth Thursday of the month (check for holidays) at 5:00 p.m. in Council Chamber (Room 201) at 222 W. Hargett St., Raleigh, NC 27601. See the RHDC Meeting Dates and Deadlines calendar for COA application deadlines and hearing dates.
Meeting agendas and previous meeting minutes are posted online at least 10 business days prior to the meeting. Although you must be present in-person to participate, COA Committee meetings are broadcast live on RTN 11 and livestreamed on the City of Raleigh YouTube channel. To watch past meetings, visit the video services webpage under “Other Government Videos.”
Past Major Work COA cases since May 2020 are available on the City’s online agenda platform (BoardDocs). Approved Minor Work COA cases are available on the Development Approvals webpage. Full physical property files are also available for review by appointment.
Before Submitting an Application
Is Your Property Locally Designated?
Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) zoning permit approvals are only required for exterior changes to a locally designated historic property. To determine whether your property is located within a local Historic Overlay District (HOD) or is a designated Raleigh Historic Landmark (RHL), follow the instructions on the COA webpage.
Are You the Property Owner?
Because Major Work COA cases are decided in a quasi-judicial evidentiary hearing, the applicant is required to be the current property owner or someone with a valid lease or option or contract to purchase or lease. If the property is not owned by an individual, the applicant must be an authorized agent of the landowner (see § 160D-403) and attorney representation is required at the COA hearing.
Design Review Standards
All COA projects are reviewed for congruity with the special character of the historic district or landmark and the Design Guidelines for Raleigh Historic Districts and Landmarks. Before applying for a COA, read the Design Guidelines and your property’s historic designation report to ensure the proposed work complies with them.
A virtual meeting with the Historic Preservation Unit staff is available prior to submitting your Major Work COA Application. Contact information to schedule a meeting with staff is located in the blue box on the upper right corner of this page.
You may also wish to review recently approved COAs to better understand what types of information to include in a successful application. Past Major Work COA cases since May 2020 are available on the City’s online agenda platform (BoardDocs). Full physical property files are also available for review by appointment.
Prepare Application Materials
An application will not be considered complete until ALL the following items have been submitted:
|Required for Submittal||
|Required for Most Projects||
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|Additional Requirements for Demolition Applications||
Submitting for a Major Work COA
At this step, your application materials should be ready to assemble. Applications and fees must be submitted online using the City’s Permit and Development Portal.
The system requires three attachments at the time of submittal: the COA application form, a written description, and current property photographs. You can add as many other attachments as needed to provide a complete application. All forms, plans, and supporting documents must be attached as PDFs, Word documents, or JPEGs. Links to online products you wish to install will not be accepted.
Initial Staff Review
After the online submission, a Historic Preservation Unit staffer will be assigned to the case. Staff will make an initial review to determine clarity and completeness, and if more information is required for the COA Committee to make a decision. Staff will send an email outlining what additional materials are required, a mailing list for creating stamped envelopes, and a secondary revised materials deadline.
By the deadline provided with the initial staff comments, a single revised PDF document containing the full COA application packet must be uploaded to the case in the online permit portal. The combined PDF should include the signed COA application form, all initial information submitted (unless revised in response to staff comments), and any additional required or supplemental materials prepared to address staff comments. No physical copies of the COA application are needed.
Stamped, Addressed Envelopes
Stamped and addressed envelopes must be delivered to the city offices at One Exchange Plaza in order for the COA application to be considered complete. The envelope drop-off date corresponds to the revised materials deadline. The envelopes should be letter-sized, empty, and with no return address. Be sure to include an envelope for each mailing address provided by staff, including yourself.
The application is complete once staff receives the revised digital COA application packet and the stamped envelopes. Complete Major Work applications are placed on the next COA Committee agenda, based upon which COA application deadline date they meet.
Project Review and Permitting
Once an application is complete, the assigned case planner will write a report evaluating the work request for congruity with the special character of the historic district or landmark property and the Design Guidelines. The staff report includes a congruity analysis of the work request and evidence provided, notes any staff concerns, and provides potential conditions for the COA Committee to consider during their discussion. Staff reports are prepared in advance of the meeting and made publicly available with the online agenda and emailed directly to the applicant at least 10 days prior to the meeting.
Staff typically will visit the property as part of the review process. Members of the COA Committee review the application materials and staff reports and also make a site visit prior to the hearing. Committee members may not discuss the details of the case with applicants, neighbors, or fellow committee members prior to the hearing.
Notification of the COA Committee meeting and evidentiary hearings on the agenda is made in several ways. A sign is posted on the subject property. The owners of properties within 100 feet of the subject property are sent a letter with a link to the meeting agenda. A legal ad is placed in the newspaper.
Notification of tenants is also required. Where available, mailing addresses for tenants will be provided by staff for the stamped envelopes. If addresses are not available, staff will provide the applicant with tenant sign materials and additional posting instructions as needed.
Participating in the COA Evidentiary Hearing
No sign-up is required ahead of time, but anyone wishing to comment on a case must be present in-person at the meeting. All individuals (including but not limited to property owners, witnesses, neighbors, and attorneys) with competent and material evidence relevant to a case may participate in the evidentiary hearing.
The COA Evidentiary Hearing Procedure guide describes the process for the quasi-judicial hearings required for each Major Work COA application. All remarks and evidence presented should address the project’s congruity with the special character of the district or landmark property and the Design Guidelines for Raleigh Historic Districts and Landmarks.
Applicants or those wishing to speak in support or opposition to the case may bring new information directly to the COA Committee meeting. Presentations must be emailed to the Historic Preservation Unit two business days prior to the meeting. Eight copies are required for any documents, exhibits, or any other materials brought to the meeting.
Expected Processing Time
Complete applications for Major Work COAs usually take between 6-10 weeks to process. The time is dependent on the complexity of the project and whether the COA Committee requests additional information requiring a second hearing. This schedule includes the time from initial submission to the COA Committee meeting after the case is heard, which will be when the COA Committee officially adopts the minutes and decisions from the previous month’s meeting.
Often, Major Work COA applications are approved with conditions for further staff review of minor construction details prior to issuing the COA approval placard. The COA approval placard is issued after conditions are met or at the time the decision is adopted if there are no conditions.
Post-Hearing Next Steps
After the meeting where the case is heard and following the official adoption of the decision at the next month’s meeting, the applicant will receive a final case record. The case record includes the meeting minutes, the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, and the blue COA approval placard if all conditions are met.
Conditions of Approval
COA approval conditions generally fall into two categories: those required prior to issuance of the blue placard and those required prior to installation or construction. If a Major Work COA approval includes conditions to be completed prior to the issuance of permits, the applicant must act to meet these conditions before the COA approval placard is released. All other conditions requiring review and approval by staff should be submitted at the same time in one package rather than provided piecemeal. Submittal is made by email to the assigned case planner.
COA Approval Posting
The blue COA approval placard must be posted in public view on site while the approved work is being performed.
Application fees are due at the time of submittal. Project review will not begin until the fee is paid.
- Submittals are made using the Permit and Development Portal.
- The Development Fee Guide provides specific fees associated with the defined project type (minor work, major work, additions greater than 25% of building square footage, new building, demolition, after-the-fact).
- The Customer Service Center processes payments or you may pay via the Permit Portal.
Payment types include Cash, MasterCard, Visa, or check made payable to the City of Raleigh.