Historic Preservation Regulations

Your Responsibilities If Your Home Is Located in a Historic District

If you are proposing to make an exterior change to a building within the Historic District, you are responsible for maintaining the historic integrity of the exterior of your home and must go through the review process and obtain approval from the Design Review Commission prior to making changes to the exterior of the building.

The Design Review Commission

The City’s Zoning Ordinance called for the formation of the Design Review Commission (DRC) and described the boundaries of the City’s historic districts and landmarks. It empowered the DRC to recommend the designation of additional local landmarks, districts and sites; regulate demolition, new construction and exterior renovations to buildings within the local historic districts; and advise the City Council and property owners generally on preservation issues in the City’s historic districts. The DRC is charged with administering and carrying out the responsibilities of the City’s Zoning Ordinance Articles VII-Historic Review Approval and Article VIII-Architectural Review.

The DRC is composed of 7 members appointed by the Mayor. Three members are required to be property owners in the City’s historic districts. DRC members are knowledgeable about Saratoga Springs’ history, architectural styles, and design and construction techniques. Members are Saratoga Springs residents and serve as unpaid volunteers.

To guide their review, the DRC uses a set of mandatory and advisory guidelines from the Ordinance and other sources. These guidelines may be obtained from the Planning Department’s office or website. These guidelines are based on the U.S. Department of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and other sources.

When Is Design Review Required?

A property owner, lessee or purchaser under contract of sale seeking to make any exterior changes, erect a sign, build or demolish property is required to receive DRC approval prior to issuance of a building permit, if the property is located within one of the City’s historic districts, or within one of the City’s architectural districts, or if it is a City landmark. Read more on the Design Review page.

The Design Review Process

The process begins with the submission of an application, plans, material details and drawings to the City’s Building Inspector. The application package is reviewed for completeness and then scheduled for the next available DRC meeting. A complete application must be submitted three weeks prior to the meeting in order to allow adequate time for review and mailing to Commission members. Many projects are reviewed in one meeting but complicated projects can require multiple review meetings. At each step of the review process, you will work with the staff of the Planning Office.

Considering Your Application

In reviewing your application, the DRC will consider the size and scale of the building, existing architectural features, window and door size and style, and construction materials. The DRC will consider whether the overall change proposed for the structure can be accommodated without compromising the attributes of the property which make it significant.

The DRC also considers whether the changes you propose are appropriate to the district. The DRC is not required to redesign your project if it is found not to be acceptable. However, the members of the DRC may advise you on how your proposal might be modified or adjusted to meet the City’s design standards and be approved. If the DRC rejects your plans you may file an appeal with the Zoning Board of Appeals if the DRC’s decision will cause an economic hardship.