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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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1) What is a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA), and how can I get one?

Contact Amanda Rose, City Preservation Planner, at (615) 550-6737 for more information.

2) Would I need a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) to remodel my kitchen or bathroom?

No. Historic zoning regulations only pertain to exterior changes. Remodeling, renovation, and all other interior changes are exempt from HZC review.

3) My house has a few rotten boards in its wood siding. I cannot decide whether to replace the damaged clapboards or re-side the whole house with vinyl or hardi-panel siding. If it were in the HPO, would I have to get a COA to do either?

If you decide to replace the damaged clapboards, you do not need a COA. You will, however, need to contact the Historic Preservation Planner in order to establish an In-Kind Repair Document for the record keeping of the repair project in the Historic Preservation Overlay (HPO) District.

If you propose to re-side your home with new material, an application to the HZC for a COA would be required. The guidelines recommend retaining the original wood siding on contributing historic structures.

4) What is a Historic Preservation Overlay (HPO)?

An HPO is a classification that is added to a property in addition to the underlying zoning. An HPO does not change the underlying zoning and allowable uses of a property. It is an additional requirement that is "overlaid" on the property in order to preserve the character of historic properties important to the community.

5) What is the difference between the National Register Historic District and the local HP Overlay?

The U.S. Department of the Interior awards the National Register Historic District designation. Although this status is very prestigious, it comes with no special protections unless federal funding is involved in a proposed project. The local historic district (Historic Preservation Overlay) is a special zoning overlay outlined in the local zoning ordinance. Once the HPO was established, the Historic Zoning Commission was created to review projects within the overlay. The commission is a city board made up of preservation specialists, historians, architects and ordinary citizens. The HZC reviews exterior changes in material or design that require a building permit, including demolition, additions, exterior rehabilitation and relocation. Before beginning any work requiring review, the applicant must apply for and receive a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) from the HZC. The commission will assess the proposed change for compliance with the Franklin Historic District Design Guidelines and the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation.

6) If my house were included in the HPO, would I be required to restore it to its original historic appearance?

No. Property owners inside a local historic district are not required to do anything to their houses. They can maintain them just as they are. Only exterior additions or alterations being proposed by the owner would require review and approval by the Commission.

7) What if I wanted to paint my house?

A COA would not be required for repainting a house or other structure in the district unless the structure is previously unpainted brick. Painting a previously unpainted brick structure would require review, but the Commission does not review paint colors.

8) I want to build a substantial addition to my house. If it were located in the HPO, would I have to apply for a COA?

An addition to any structure in historic district would require a COA from the Historic Zoning Commission. The Commission will grant a COA if the design for an addition is compatible with proportions, style and design of the existing structure and with the design guidelines.

9) What are some activities that would and would not require a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA)?

Examples of activities that would not require a COA:

  • Interior modifications of any kind
  • Repainting
  • Landscaping, including gardens, shrubs, and trees
  • Repairs to walks, driveways, and patios
  • Repairs to siding, trim, railings, shingles, etc., that match existing materials
  • Repairs to fences
  • Other routine exterior repairs and maintenance

Examples of activities that would require a COA from the Historical Zoning Commission:

  • Exterior changes such as additions, changes in siding material, style of windows, doors or architectural features
  • Erection of new buildings
  • Erection of fences
  • Construction of garages
  • Replacement of outbuildings
  • Demolition or removal of all or part of a structure

Please contact the Preservation Planner at 615.550.6737 to discuss whether or not your project will require a COA.

10) Who is on the Historic Zoning Commission?

The Historic Zoning Commission is composed of nine (9) members consisting of a representative of a local patriotic or historical organization; an architect, if available; a member of the local planning commission at the time of such person's appointment; and the remaining members shall be appointed from the community in general. The Historic Zoning Commission shall be appointed by the chief executive of the municipality, subject to confirmation by the local legislative body.  A list of current commissioners is located on our Historic Zoning Commission page.