Historic Landmarks Commission

Charter Article 141 – WV Code 8-26A-1

What Is The Historic Landmarks Commission?
The Historic Landmarks Commission (HLC) is a volunteer public body created via the Charles Town Codified Code. The Commission reviews proposed new construction, demolitions, and exterior alterations to structures within the city’s historic overlay districts. If the proposed work is in keeping with the historic character of the building and the Design Review Standards, the HLC may approve a Certificate of Appropriateness, which is required before work begins.

When Is Certificate of Appropriateness Necessary?
Any exterior changes visible from a public street in the historic districts must be reviewed. Exterior paint colors and interior changes are not reviewed. Changes included:

  • A Change in Design – for example: adding a dormer, enclosing a porch, replacing the existing door, etc.
  • A Change in Material – for example: installing vinyl or aluminum siding, replacing wooden railings with wrought iron, replacing wood windows with vinyl, etc.
  • A Change in Texture – for example: replacing scalloped siding shingles with square siding shingles, replacing decorative porch columns with straight porch columns, etc.
  • A Change in Arrangement – for example: blocking up a window, adding a new door opening, etc.

Major changes such as demolition, removal of porches, construction of additions, or other fundamental alterations all require review. It should be noted that the HLC never requires an owner to initiate work. An owner may choose to leave a property “as is” unless another city agency mandates improvements for public health and safety.

When Is Review of the Design Review Standards NOT Necessary?
General repair and maintenance, and replacement of deteriorated features with like materials of the identical appearance does not require HLC review.

Is It Hard To Get Design Review Standards Approved?
The HLC wants to make sure that any alterations do not permanently alter the historical architectural character of the property. When reviewing a case, the HLC takes into account the goals the property owner is trying to accomplish and the unique circumstances of each case. The HLC may be able to suggest more cost efficient and historically appropriate treatments.

A document titled Design Review Standards for the Historic Overlay District is available from the Department of Community Development. The design review standards provide property owners guidance as to specific rehabilitation practices. An applicant still must appear before the HLC if changes are being proposed, but compliance with the Design Review Standards greatly increases the likelihood of approval. Applicants should also consult the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Rehabilitation of Historic Properties for further information on appropriate rehabilitation practices

What Is The Procedure For Applying To Design Review Standards?
When considering making exterior changes, the applicant must fill out an application for a Certificate of Appropriateness and appear before the HLC at its next monthly meeting (normally the second Monday of the month). Please review the calendar for application submission dates.

Please note that the normal city permit processes (zoning, signage, building, plumbing, electrical, etc.) apply to the historic districts in exactly the same way as in other sections of the city. Historic Landmarks Commission approval is based on historic and architectural criteria only and does not relieve the applicant of the responsibility to secure other permits from other city agencies when relevant.


Historic Landmarks Commission Members and Terms

Nick Zaglifa (Vice Chair) 07.01.17 – 06.30.20
Jeff Whitten07.01.20 – 07.01.23
Jeff Whitaker (Chair) 01.01.18 – 12.31.20
Diane Drake (Secretary) 07.01.18 – 06.30.21
VACANT 07.01.19 – 06.30.22

Historic Landmarks Commission Documents

Forms and Applications