Review & Permitting Process for Neighborhood Districts
WHAT IS REVIEWED?
MAJOR DEVELOPMENT: All demolition, relocation, and new construction within the designated boundaries of the Andover Street, Belvidere Hill, Livingston-Harvard, Rogers Fort Hill Park, South Common, Tyler Park, Wannalancit Street, Washington Square, and Wilder Street Neighborhood Districts. All determinations regarding Major Development are reviewed by the Board at a public hearing.
THE BEST WAY TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE WORK YOU ARE CONTEMPLATING MUST BE REVIEWED BY THE HISTORIC BOARD IS TO CONSULT THE STAFF.
DESIGN REVIEW STANDARDS
The purpose of the Board’s Design Review Standards is to guide all demolition and new construction of contributing properties in the Districts so that the integrity of Lowell’s distinct neighborhoods is not disrupted. They are intended to help applicants propose and design projects that are consistent with, and maintain, the District’s setting. This helps in ensuring that the review process is fair and can be completed quickly. The goal is to minimize reliance on individual tastes and preferences of applicants and reviewers by having clear, understandable guidelines.
1. Consult with the staff as soon as you begin to consider doing work to determine whether the work will require review and what guidelines apply. The staff’s job is to assist you in making appropriate and long-lasting changes to your property.
2. Complete the application form including all required materials and application fee. Incomplete applications will delay the
3. Attend Design Review and Neighborhood Committee Meetings to discuss your proposal.
4. Attend a Public Hearing to present the application. The Board will hear your presentation, testimony of interested parties, and
the recommendations of the staff , Design Review, and Neighborhood Committee before rendering a decision.
POSSIBLE OUTCOMES OF REVIEW
Historic Permit: An Historic Permit outlines the work described in your application and is a legal agreement regarding the methods and results of proposed work.
Historic Permit with Conditions: This type of permit outlines the conditions under which the Board has agreed to approve the work. The most common condition is “final details to be reviewed by the Administrator.” This condition is used to expedite the review process while ensuring that all details of the work comply with the Neighborhood District’s Design Review Standards and the Board determination. Any conditions included in a permit are part of the legal agreement and must be adhered to.
Continuance: Sometimes the Board may vote to continue the discussion to another hearing in order to review additional information such as revised drawings or a site inspection. The staff and Design Review Committee try to help the applicant assemble all necessary materials before the hearing.
Denial: Rarely the Board will vote to deny an application. Typically the staff and Design Review Committee will warn the applicant if the proposed work is inconsistent with the Neighborhood District’s Design Review Standards and help to amend the proposal to meet the standards.
APPROVAL TIME PERIOD
30 days for Historic Permits for Major Development.
This time period is an average. Completeness of application, appropriateness of proposals, and timing of application submittals all
affect the review process. Historic Board staff, the district’s Neighborhood Committee, and the Board’s Design Review committee meet as often as needed to assist project applicants in developing proposals that are consistent with the character of the district and the district’s Design Review Standards. Proposals would be heard before the Historic Board, which meets monthly, at a public hearing after the statutorily required seven-day notice with decisions almost always rendered at the hearing.
· The Board must approve in advance all demolition and new construction in the Neighborhood Districts. By state law, no City department, board or commission can issue any permits, variances, approvals, etc. within the Districts until the Historic Board has first issued its approval and/or granted an Historic Permit.
· If unapproved work is found to be in progress or has been completed, a “stop work” order will be issued. If the work is found to be inconsistent with the Board’s Design Review Standards, a violation process is instituted and the owner may be required to undo the changes and repair any damage at his/her own expense. Violations within the Districts are subject to fines up to $100 a day with each day constituting a separate offense.