Obtaining a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA)

Certificates of Appropriateness

What are they?

A Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) is a permit recommended by the Gettysburg Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB) and approved by Borough Council in its role as a Certified Local Government (CLG). Gettysburg is a CLG, recognized by both the National Park Service and the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office, which has agreed to expand its preservation programming by enacting historic preservation ordinances and/or zoning, commenting on National Register of Historic Places nominations within their jurisdiction, providing a brief annual report on the municipality's preservation activities, provide training for local preservation review boards and/or commissions, and undertake or update historic resource surveys. A Certificate of Appropriateness (COA), issued by Borough Council, or its designee(s), in its capacity as a CLG certifies that a proposed change is appropriate to the character of a building in the Gettysburg Historic District and to the historic district as a whole.

Do I need to pay a fee?

There is no fee for a COA or the review process. 

What's the Process?

The process for obtaining a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) is a simple one. It begins when a property owner applies for Land Use-Working Permit to make an exterior improvement. If the permit reviewer finds that the property is in the Historic District, the application is forwarded to the Historic Preservation Officer. 

All exterior improvements in the Historic District, large or small, must receive a Certificate of Appropriateness before any work may begin. 

Completing a COA Application

Depending on the type and scope of project, you may be able to submit a Consolidated Land Use Permit. The Gettysburg Historic Districts Ordinance allows Borough Council to deligate authority to the Historic Preservation Officer to review and approve minor projects, changes of material-in-kind, and signs. Only one (1) set of application materials is required for administrative review. COA applications for administrative review may be submitted at any time and are not dependent upon the meeting schedule of the Historical Architectural Review Board (HARB).

Larger projects which have a significant impact on the character of a historic structure or surrounding district come under the review of HARB and require Council Approval. Applications are reviewed by HARB at its monthly meetings, held on the third Wednesday of the month. Applications are due to the Historic Preservation Officer no less than three (3) weeks prior to the HARB meeting.

Fill out as much of the form as possible. Include a detailed description of the work you would like to do, manufacturer's specifications as applicable, photographs, drawings, and/or materials samples. The more information, the better. HARB is a very visual review board, so pictures, renderings, and material samples help them understand your project and come to a decision regarding its appropriateness.

COA Review Process

Once an application is submitted, the proposed work is reviewed for appropriateness against the Borough of Gettysburg Historic Districts Ordinance, the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, and the Gettysburg Design Guide.

If the application is eligible for administrative approval, the Historic Preservation Officer will process the application, review it for completeness and, once approved, issue a Historic District Land-Use Working Permit with the COA as an accessory permit. The permit placard will display the Certificate of Appropriateness permit number in the upper right corner. A letter of approval will also accompany the placard.

If the application must undergo full board review and approval by Borough Council, the property owner and/or an agent must attend the next regularly scheduled HARB meeting on the third Wednesday of the month to present the proposed improvements. If HARB determines the work is appropriate for the Historic District, it will then recommend approval of the application to Borough Council which will take up the matter at its next regularly scheduled business meeting. If Borough Council votes to grant a Certificate of Appropriateness for the project, the next phase is building permit review. 

No work may occur until all required building permits have been issued.