By Lisa Wofford
Historic District neighborhoods, like all neighborhoods, are living, changing places that evolve in ways that reflect the dynamism of Charlotte and its citizens. The portion of the Plaza Midwood community that is designated as a local historic district has a distinct character, and it is the work of the Historic District Commission and its staff to work with owners, residents and business operators to maintain that special and unique character. The western section of the Plaza Midwood neighborhood, generally the area along The Plaza, Thomas Avenue and parts of Pecan and Clement, were designated as a Local Historic District in 1992. Since that time, questions have come up over and again regarding the Historic District program.
If your home falls within the area designated as the Plaza Midwood Historic District, please be know that with the honor comes responsibility. The designation is a tool for residents for the preservation of the unique and the protection against the incompatible. Having said that, if you are considering an addition of any construction, particularly to the facade of your home or in the front yard, it is subject to Historic commission approval. This includes, but is not limited to fencing, signs, replacement of doors and windows, decks and patio installation and shrubbery removal. To get more information or to ask questions, please call John Rogers at the Historic Commission, 336-2205.
Signs recognizing the district have been erected. They were designed by Midwood resident Melissa Schropp and would not be possible without the hard work of Thomas Barnes. Below are some of the more common questions about the program. If you have others, please call the HDC office any time.
How do I know I am in the historic district?
When someone buys property in a local historic district, the seller or their real estate agent is required by law to disclose the historic district status of the building or lot before sale is closed. Anyone wondering if a property is in a local historic district area can contact the Historic District Commission Office at 336-2302.
What exactly does this mean to me as a home owner?
Before any exterior changes or new construction or demolition is conducted within the district, you must first contact the Charlotte Historic District Commission Office at 336-2302 to determine if the proposed work requires approval. HDC staff is available to assist you, and can, in fact, grant approval for a wide range of routine projects.
What if I rent my home?
The HDC Design Guidelines apply to all property in a district, whether owner occupied or rented, business or residential, developed or vacant.
How long does it take to deal with the Commission?
Most items that require the approval of the full Historic District Commission can be resolved within thirty days. Some projects may take longer.
Does everything have to go through this process?
Under the provisions of the Zoning Ordinance, all exterior changes, new construction and demolition are covered by the Historic District Commission design guidelines. You should always contact the HDC office prior to doing any such work, just to ensure that no approvals are necessary.
What if I chose not to bother with the Historic District Commission?
The HDC has adopted a new enforcement policy that is designed to give anyone a chance to comply with the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance. It is a violation of the Charlotte Zoning Ordinance to make any exterior changes to a building or site in a local historic district without first gaining the HDC’s approval. Mecklenburg County Building Standards Department cannot issue a building or a demolition permit in an historic district without a Certificate of Appropriateness from the HDC. Failing that, the HDC staff and the appropriate County Zoning Inspector can seek the issuance of a summons to bring the violation before the Mecklenburg County Environmental Court.
How can I find out more?
You can call the HDC office any time. John Rogers can be reached at 336-5994, and Wanda Birmingham is at 336-2302. The Historic District Commission offices are part of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission. They are on the eighth floor of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center at 600 East Fourth Street.