Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) & Design Guidelines

Why You Need to Apply for a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA)

The Historic Districts Ordinance requires that the Historical Preservation Commission (HPC) issue a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) before a building located in a historic district can be erected, reconstructed, restored, demolished, or altered in any way that affects its external appearance. A COA is also required for certain changes made to the grounds and signs. Certain minor actions, that do not permanently affect the character of the property or the historic district, may not have to be reviewed by the HPC, but these actions must be approved by the HPC Secretary. Examples of minor actions include repainting, adding or changing storm windows or doors, and repairs using like materials and like designs. The HPC Secretary may impose certain conditions. You may also need to obtain other City permits such as building or sign permits. Approval or denial of COA applications is based on the Lynchburg Historic Districts Design Review Guidelines. View these below.

How to Apply for a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA)

The COA application is available online at the links below. Printed versions are available in the first floor permitting center of City Hall, 900 Church Street or may be mailed to you upon request. The completed form, with adequate supplemental information, must be submitted to the HPC's Secretary at least 15 days prior to a regularly scheduled meeting per Section 35.2-13.4 of the Zoning Ordinance. There are no application fees. It is required for COA applicants or their representatives to be present at the HPC meeting to answer any questions from the HPC members. There is no virtual attendance option.

If you are not the property owner, you will also need to complete a Property Owner Authorization Form (PDF).

Questions About Your Submittal

Staff support for the HPC is provided by the Department of Community Development's Planning Division. Eve Mergenthaler serves as Secretary to the HPC and processes all COA applications. Please submit all materials to her attention.

The HPC also has an advocacy program in which each member is responsible for providing assistance to citizens of a particular historic district. If you are a property owner or a resident of a historic district, the advocate for your district is available to help you with the application process as needed. To find out who your advocate is, please view the Historic Preservation Commission roster.

Lynchburg Historic Districts Design Review Guidelines

The HPC has adopted Residential Design Review Guidelines built upon the History of Lynchburg, the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation, and Commercial Historic Districts Design Guidelines for Downtown Lynchburg. These guidelines contain specific criteria and generally accepted preservation standards for appropriate rehabilitation work, new construction, and demolition in Lynchburg's designated historic districts. These design guidelines assist property owners in preserving, maintaining, and enhancing the appearance of their historic properties; keeping up property values; and improving the livability of historic areas. The HPC's review and your historic district advocate can provide help in understanding the guidelines.

Historic Preservation Code Sections