Local Historic District Commission
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When a Local Historic District Certificate is Needed
1. When a building permit or demolition permit is required, a Local Historic District Certificate is required.
2. When exterior architectural features will be permanently removed even if a building permit is not required, a Local Historic District Certificate Is required.
Types of Local Historic District Certificates
1. Certificate of Non-Applicability - Will be granted in cases that do not involve any exterior architectural feature or that involve exterior architectural features not subject to review by the Commission (e.g., because the feature is not visible from the public way or because they fit one of the exclusions listed on the next page). The Building Commissioner will issue these certificates within 5 days of the filing of the application.
2. Certificate of Appropriateness - Issued when the Commission approves an application after full review, including a hearing. . Decisions to be made within 60 days of the filing of the applications.
3. Certificate of Hardship - Issued when the Commission determines that disapproval of an application would cause substantial hardship, financial or otherwise.
4. Disapproval of an Application - When the Commission determines not to approve an application, it issues a disapproval. In cases of disapproval, the Commission must give the reasons for such disapproval, and it may include in its disapproval specific recommendations for changes in the applicant's proposal with respect to the appropriateness of design, arrangement, texture, material and similar features which, if made and filed with the Commission in a subsequent application, would make the application acceptable to the Commission.
How to Submit an Application
1. Application Form - Applications are made on form, "Application for Local Historic District Certificate," available from the Planning, Conservation, and Inspections Department on the second floor of Town Hall.
2. Application Fee - $50.
3. How Submitted - Applications are submitted by appointment with the Building Commissioner or staff. This meeting ensures that necessary information and documentation are included in the application, thus avoiding delays.
The Local Historic District Commission
The Local Historic District Commission was formed on May 21, 2012 (Town Meeting, Article 27), following the guidelines of Chapter 40 Sec. C of the Massachusetts General Bylaw.
The Commission helps in the preservation and protection of the distinctive characteristics and architecture of buildings and places found within the local historic districts of Amherst.
- Review and regulate construction and alterations of any structure of building within the district, with consideration for the distinctive characteristics of each structure, building and landscape.
- Encourage and support new and innovative building designs and techniques compatible with the existing architecture.
- Create and amend design guidelines that set forth the designs for certain exterior architectural features that are, in general, suitable for the issuance of a certificate.
Undertake educational efforts to explain to the public and property owners the merits and functions of the district.
- Retain all permanent record of its resolutions, transactions, decisions and determinations.
|Member||Year Appointed||Term Expires|
|Jennifer Taub - Chair||2017||2021|
*Appointed by the Select Board: 7 members/ 3-year terms
North Prospect Lincoln Sunset
Local Historic District
Encompassing over 194 properties, the proposed local historic district is a significant local historic resource, graced with dozens of architectural gems that span the late 1700s to the early 1900s in a striking and intact blend of original examples of Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Neoclassical, Craftsman and Tudor Revival Styles.
Beyond its architectural merits, perhaps more than any other neighborhood in Amherst, the proposed LHD reflects and encapsulates the communities intellectual, cultural, and economic development between the end of the Civil War to the beginning of World War II (1865-1940). Laborers, artisans and domestic workers lived among their more affluent neighbors and generations of African American and Irish made this area their home.
Notable Residence of the Area
A Sample of Some of the Homes
20 Cosby Avenue
26 Elm Street
149 Sunset Avenue
154 Lincoln Avenue
Home of Robert Frost, 43 Sunset Avenue
8 Sunset Avenue
15 Sunset Avenue
26 Beston Street
20 Beston Street
41-43 Fearing Street
85 Fearing Street
Home of Moses and Anna Goodwin, 43 McClellan Street
52 North Prospect
NEXT MEETING: April 8, 2019
Project Application Reports:
PREVIOUS MEETING: MARCH 11, 2019
The Emily Dickinson Museum, Offices – Request removal and replacement of wooden steps on the east front porch. On the south elevation, remove a window, replace existing porch, door and stairs, add a new handicap ramp to the porch. New lighting fixtures to be added to the north and south elevations. Changes are visible from Triangle Street, requiring Commission approval for a Certificate of Appropriateness as indicated in Section 6.2 of the Local Historic District Bylaw. Located at 20 Triangle Street, Map 14B/Parcel 20, General Residence (RG) Zone, Dickinson Local Historic District.
Amherst Community Television – Request the construction of a new 4,080 square foot, facility, measured at 32 feet in height, and consisting of a wood frame construction with a cement fiber board exterior. The new structure is visible from Main Street, Gray Street and Triangle Street, requiring Commission approval for a Certificate of Appropriateness as indicated in Section 6.2 of the Local Historic District Bylaw. Located on the corner of Main Street and Gray Street, Map 14B/Parcel 250-251, General Residence (RG) Zone, Dickinson Local Historic District.
Sarah Craig – Request the reconstruction of the west facing porch and the addition of new stairs from the porch, changes are visible from Peace Place and McClellan Street, requiring Commission approval for a Certificate of Appropriateness as indicated in Section 6.2 of the Local Historic District Bylaw. Located at 100 North Prospect Street, Map 11C/Parcel 204, General Residence (RG) Zone, North Prospect-Lincoln Sunset Local Historic District.
Frequently Asked Questions
If my house is included in the local historic district, do I have to make it look more historic?
No, you can maintain the current look of your house.
What will happen to the value of my property?
Studies of other local historic districts show that property values stay the same or increase faster in local historic districts compared to similar, non-designated areas.
Is a vacant lot subject to review?
The development of a vacant lot would be subject to review of the Historic District Commission.
What if changes are made without obtaining the appropriate certificate?
Changes would be a violation of the bylaw and a fine of $300 may be imposed. A new fine will be imposed each day as long as the violation in remains.
Why is a historic district necessary when most of the homeowners are already good stewards of their property?
Architects and contractors, unfamiliar or unsympathetic with historic structure renovation may recommend extensive removal of historic architectural features and may propose incompatible additions. A new owner may be unfamiliar with Amherst's history and the character of the district. The Local Historic District can help inform the new property owners and their renovation team how to renovate their property.
Would an innovative development be allowed in the Local Historic District?
New development is permitted in a local historic district. It need not replicate historic styles, and contemporary architecture which blends with the current historic streetscapes would be encouraged. Section 1 of the Bylaw states that a purpose of the Bylaw is to “encourage and support new and innovative building designs and techniques compatible with the existing architecture.”
Would a local historic district make it more difficult for owners with limited incomes in live in their homes?
A local historic district cannot force homeowners to maintain their properties. In addition, homeowners are not required to improve the historic character of their properties by, for example, removing vinyl siding. The Commission will encourage non-profit organizations to provide energy-saving renovations to owners with limited means. Effective restoration does not necessarily require the most expensive materials or construction.