1. Living in a Local Historic District

Why create Local Historic Districts?

The distinctive and highly desirable character of Belmont is largely due to the breadth, quantity, and diversity of the town’s architecture and historic properties. Throughout Massachusetts, local historic districts have preserved the character of many neighbourhoods, ensuring that the historic built environment will survive for future generations to enjoy, providing a visual sense of the past, and instilling pride in community. The intent of a local historic district is to ensure that changes and additions are harmonious, and to prevent the intrusion of incongruous elements that might detract from the aesthetic and historic values of the district. The purpose of a local historic district is not to halt growth, but to allow for the thoughtful consideration of change. 

What is required?

A resident in a historic district is required by law to seek and receive approval for any applicable exterior alterations prior to the commencement of work. In Belmont, the Historic District Commission (HDC) oversees the review process associated with improvements proposed in the local historic districts. 

What is the Design Review and Application Process?

A building permit for construction, alteration, or demolition of an exterior architectural feature or building within a historic district cannot be issued without one of the following certificates:

  1. Certificate of Appropriateness

A Certificate of Appropriateness is required for all exterior alterations visible from a public way. In general, this applies to exterior alterations, new additions, changes to color or materials, or changes to man-made landscape features.

  1. Certificate of Non-Applicability

A Certificate of Non-Applicability certifies that a Certificate of Appropriateness is not required for the intended work. A Certificate of Non-Applicability is required for additions, alterations or new construction not visible from a public way; temporary structures; or reconstruction (within 1 year) of a feature damaged by fire or natural disaster. 

  1. Certificate of Hardship

Thinking of repainting?

If you're keeping the same color, you will need to apply for a Certificate of Non-Applicability. However, if you're looking to change the color you will need to apply for a Certificate of Appropriateness. Either way, it is always recommended that you meet with the HDC for an informal discussion before submitting a formal Application.

More information on what colors are appropriate for specific architectural styles and periods can be found here.

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If you are interested in creating a new Local Historic District or adding your property to an existing district, please contact the Office of Community Development.

*Image courtesy Belmont Historical Society