Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if I am required to submit an application for a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA)?
If your building falls within the boundaries of the Historic District Overlay zone, then you are required to submit an application for a COA before making any changes to the exterior of your building. The boundaries are delineated here.
Why do I need to apply for a Certificate of Appropriateness?
The city code of ordinances requires that all exterior changes to buildings that fall within the boundaries of the HDO (apart from regular repairs or maintenance) be approved by the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC).
When is my COA application due?
Applications must be received on the day of the last meeting prior to the next month's scheduled meeting (if full review is determined to be necessary).
When will I know the results?
The HPC will issue a COA as soon as possible, with a maximum of sixty days after the date the COA is received.
What do I need to bring to a Design Review Meeting?
First, you must bring a completed Certificate of Appropriateness application. In addition, you should be prepared to bring as much documentation or information as is necessary to make your proposed alterations understandable by the commission members. This may include, but is not limited to, plan drawings, sketches, photographs, construction and material specifications, etc. Based on your proposed work you must bring information detailed enough to allow the HPC to evaluate your request. Bring examples of construction materials, pictures of proposed windows, manufacturer's information or specs, mock-ups of signage, sketches on a picture of the building, site plans and elevations, etc.
What does the HPC need to know to evaluate my application?
In short, the HPC needs to know where your property is, what the building looks like now, what part or parts of the building you propose to change, how you plan to make the changes or improvements, and what it will look like when you are done. See the answer above for more information. For infill or new construction projects, the HPC must have full plans, elevations, site plans, and specifications or samples of all major exterior materials.
How does the process work?
After you have filled out the COA form and submitted it to the HPC office, you MAY be asked to attend a review meeting where you will have the chance to discuss your proposed alterations (see, "Do all applications need to go through the full meeting review?") . At the meeting, your application will be reviewed and, if approved, you will be issued a Certificate of Appropriateness and can proceed with your project. If disapproved, you may appeal to the City Commission.
Do all applications need to go through the full meeting review?
No. Some COAs can be issued right away by HPC members, if it is clear that no significant alteration is being proposed. You must still fill out the COA form and submit it to the HPC office. Depending on the nature and extent of your proposal, decisions can be made without requiring a full review by the HPC at a scheduled meeting.
Why do we have design guidelines and a review process?
Most buildings experience some degree of change over time. The design review process is a tool to help manage the direction and degree of change, while establishing a common understanding of preservation design principles and standards. Maintaining a high quality of life and retaining the character that exists within Winchester's downtown historic district are important goals identified by the City and its residents. Therefore, the design guidelines and the design review process through which they are administered are intended to promote preservation of the historic, cultural and architectural resources that reflect the history of Winchester. These resources are fragile and finite, and are vulnerable to inappropriate alteration and demolition. Recognizing this, and in the spirit of continued stewardship that has helped the downtown area retain most of its historic character, the City of Winchester has established these design guidelines.
What steps should I take to expedite my application?
Please review the page about Design Review Procedures for information about moving through the application and design review process.
Will following the Guidelines be more expensive?
Generally, following the guidelines will not be more expensive. The guidelines will help owners to determine where money needs to be spent as well as helping to plan for future investments in building maintenance.
Do the Design Guidelines dictate taste?
While the guidelines do not dictate taste, they do reflect basic approaches to design. These approaches help to build a strong continuity within the downtown historic district and build upon Winchester's early commercial design traditions.
What about minor repairs and maintenance?
Minor repairs and general maintenance do not need to be approved by the Winchester Historic Preservation Commission. Overall, the HPC is not concerned with minor upkeep, including repairing windows or doors. See the Guidelines for more information. When thinking of replacing such elements, the HPC should be contacted in order to help steer you in the appropriate direction for your building.
What about interiors?
Interiors are not generally issues of concern within the Design Guidelines for the Winchester Downtown Commercial Historic District. Changes to your interior which do not alter the exterior elements of the building visible from the public right of way do not need to be brought before the HPC.
What part of the building is the HPC concerned with?
By and large, these guidelines cover the exterior of buildings; including those aspects of the building visible from the public right of way, the sides and rears.
Are all proposed projects evaluated the same?
All proposed projects brought before the Winchester HPC will be evaluated under the same general process, but each project will be looked at individually with individual properties and owners' interests taken into account.
How do I contact the Winchester Historic Preservation Commission?
You can contact the Winchester Historic Preservation Commission with questions or concerns through its Web site, www.historicwinchester.com, by phone at the Office of Planning and Community Development at (859) 744-7019, or at P.O. Box 40, Winchester, KY. 40392-0040. You are also welcome to attend the HPC meetings .
What is the process for obtaining a COA? Once submitted, what timeline does the HPC follow for accepting or rejecting the application?
To obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness, or COA, a property owner should contact the Office of Planning and Community Development at (859) 744-7019, or you may download the application form from this site . You must submit proposed construction documents along with a COA application on the day of the previous meeting for it to be hearf at next month's meeting. Once a COA has been submitted, the property owner must keep in mind that no work can begin without COA approval, followed by procurement of a Building Permit. The HPC strives to issue COAs immediately, but may legally take up to sixty days.
What materials should I take with me when my project is brought before the HPC?
If the Winchester HPC asks you to present your proposals, you should take with you construction plans, faÃ§ade drawings, and any information pertinent to the project.
Can decisions of the Winchester HPC be appealed?
If a case can be made that the denial of a COA causes undue hardship, the property owner may apply for a variance from the Board of Commissioners.
Will the Winchester Historic Preservation Commission make me fix or change my building?
The Winchester HPC will not actively seek out property owners to fix or change their building.
Are there any grants or funds available to help with the cost restoration of historic buildings?
Grant programs for the restoration of historic buildings are available through the Winchester First program. Information regarding these may be obtained by calling Tim Janes at (859) 737-0923.
Do contractors have to be certified by the Winchester HPC to perform certified work on the buildings?
No, contractors do not have to be certified by the Winchester HPC, however, they must have a Winchester Occupational license, obtained by contacting the City Clerk's office at (859)744-6292.
Does the Winchester Historic Preservation Commission check on the work while it is being completed?
Yes, HPC staff will review the work in progress. After COA approval, a building inspector will verify the work's compliance with its construction documents.
Does the Winchester HPC tell me how I can utilize my building?
No, the HPC does not have jurisdiction of the utilization of the downtown buildings. Zoning issues are administered through the use of a zoning ordinance administered by the Winchester/Clark County Planning Commission.
Does the HPC review new construction within the district?
Yes, the HPC must review new construction within the district to assure it blends with the existing stylistic fabric of the district.
Can I paint my building whatever color I want?
Yes, but the Winchester HPC suggests that you take into account the historical surroundings and attempt to maintain a complementary appearance with the rest of the Winchester Commercial Historic District.
Do I have to preserve the original fabric of the building or can I simply put in something that looks like the original?
According to the HPC guidelines and the standards set forth by the Secretary of the Interior, preservation of the original fabric is preferred; however, if the original has deteriorated beyond repair, replacement of original material is acceptable. The HPC will assist you in selecting appropriate replacements while maintaining the correct style.
How will the Winchester HPC control issues such as commercial signage, lighting or storefront windows?
These issues are addressed in the guidelines. Signage issues within the district are regulated by the guidelines for this district, which supersede the citywide ordinances in regards to signage.