Certificate of Appropriateness
A complete application for a Certificate of Appropriateness must be submitted by the owner or the owner's representative and returned with the appropriate attachments to City staff before applying for any building permits or before any commercial or residential site plan approval, if required. Applications requiring approval by the Commission must be received by City staff, in completed form, by the deadlines as outlined in the Commission calendar. Major work must be considered at a public hearing.
The hearing before the Commission is a quasi-judicial proceeding. Applicants should not contact Commissioners prior to the hearing to solicit advice or to try to influence the outcome of review process. Only factual evidence in favor or opposed to the request may be presented at the hearing. The Commission’s decision as to whether or not or to what extent it will approve the Certificate of Appropriateness will be based upon the extent to which the work proposed in the application complies with the General Design Guidelines and all applicable laws, ordinances and regulations as well as relevant factual information provided at the hearing. Applicants may present evidence or have a representative speak on their behalf. Further information regarding the conduct of the hearing and the materials to be submitted with the application for a Certificate of Appropriateness are available from the City staff.
The Commission does not have jurisdiction to consider the following:
- Property Use;
- Interior Features (having no effect on exterior architectural features); or
- Painting of previously painted surfaces.
An application for Certificate of Appropriateness shall be accompanied by such drawings, photographs, plans or other documentation as may be required by the Commission. Applications involving demolition or relocation shall be accompanied by post-demolition or relocation plans for the site. [Tuscaloosa, Ala., Code § 20-15.29(j)]
Application Review Procedures
Certificate of Appropriateness involves up to 5 steps to complete:
- Determine if the Project Requires Commission Approval
- Pre-Application Meeting with City Staff
- Filing an Application
- Review by Commission
- Commission Meeting
Details for Filing an Application
If a Certificate of Appropriateness is required, the City staff will advise the applicant regarding completion of an application and in identifying what documentation will be needed for the project to be evaluated. Supporting documentation to be submitted will be in substantial conformance to the application submission requirements established by the Commission and delegated to the staff for enforcement. All proposed projects require a completed application form. Most applications will require some form of drawings, and the detail will be determined by the scope and nature of the project. A checklist is attached to the application, which the applicant and Commission shall use to determine what will be required to adequately document and support the project application. For major work (as defined in Appendix A) the application should include at least the following drawings:
- Dimensioned Site Plans
One with existing site conditions, one with proposed site conditions at a scale not less than 1”=10’ showing the location of all buildings, additions, drives, sidewalks, fences, exterior lighting, large trees, landscaping, and other site work in context with the same information (except lighting) on adjoining properties within fifty feet of the subject property)
- Dimensioned Exterior Elevations of All Sides of New Buildings
For additions and other significant alterations, elevations should be provided of all sides of the building from which new work is visible. Drawings for additions and alterations should include elevations of both existing and proposed construction (“before and after” elevations), with each condition labeled appropriately. All elevations should be at a scale not less than ¼”=1’-0”, and all should be of sufficient detail, both graphic and written, to describe all exterior design features and materials to the satisfaction of the Commission. Note that the Commission may require exterior elevations to include elevations of adjacent buildings if, for example, there is concern the scale or massing of a proposed new building or alteration might adversely affect other nearby properties or the street or district as a whole.
- Additional Information
The Commission may establish other application submission requirements for work other than as described above when the Commission considers such additional information necessary to make informed decisions. For example, three-dimensional drawings (perspectives or isometrics), though not generally required, are recommended for additional clarity and may be required by the Commission as necessary on a case-by-case basis. Applicants shall submit electronic files of required exhibits when possible. If such submission is not possible, then the applicant must submit twelve (12) copies of such exhibits for distribution to the Commission and for the permanent file relating to the application.
Determinations by the Commission
The commission has the ability to make the following determinations:
The Commission shall approve the application and issue a Certificate of Appropriateness if it finds that the proposed material change(s), erection or demolition:
- Conforms to the General Design Guidelines
- Is compatible with the character of the historic property or historic district
- Does not detract from the value of the historic property or historic district
NOTE: the Commission reserves the right to stipulate the approval an application subject to specifically stated conditions. [Tuscaloosa, Ala., Code § 20-15.29(n)]
If the Commission may denies (rejects) an application, in whole or in part, it shall state its reasons for doing so, and shall transmit a record of such actions and reasons, in writing, to the applicant and the chief building official of the city. The Commission may suggest alternative courses of action it thinks proper if it disapproves of the application submitted. The Commission may also deny any application in part, or may approve an application subject to stated conditions.
In cases where the application would also require the issuance of a building permit, the rejection of the application for a Certificate of Appropriateness by the Commission shall be binding upon the building inspector or other administrative officer charged with issuing building permits and, in such cases, no building permit shall be issued. [Tuscaloosa, Ala., Code § 20-15.29(n)]
The Commission, with the consent of the property owner, may table an application until the next scheduled meeting. The property owner must consent each time an application is tabled. A property owner can consent to a successive tabling of the application in person at the Commission meeting, or in writing seven (7) days prior to the scheduled meeting. No application shall be tabled more than twice. [Tuscaloosa, Ala., Code § 20-15.29(m)]
- No Action
Failure of the Commission to act upon a submitted COA within said Sixty (60) days after the filing of a completed application, absent a continuance as otherwise provided for herein, shall constitute approval and no other evidence of approval shall be needed. [Tuscaloosa, Ala., Code § 20-15.29(m)]