Historic Preservation Board
In 1990 the Village of Brockport adopted a preservation ordinance, similar to those enacted in other municipalities across New York State. Its purpose is to protect from destruction or insensitive rehabilitation, buildings and neighborhoods in the Village which have special historic, architectural and cultural character. This ordinance created the Brockport Historic Preservation Board (BHPB) with responsibilities to identify the Village's significant historic and architectural resources, initiate the designation process of Village landmarks and historic districts and review applications for proposed exterior changes to buildings that are Village landmarks or in Village historic districts. The BHPB meets on the third Thursday of each month, unless otherwise announced at 7:00 p.m. at the Village Hall, 49 State Street. Meetings are open to the public. Additional meetings are scheduled as needed.
What is a Village Designated Landmark or Historic District?
A Village landmark is an officially designated property/building that meets one or more of the criteria which includes possessing special historic importance to the Village, such as identity with an important person or event; exhibiting distinguishing characteristics of an architectural style or architect; and having a unique location of physical character that represents a familiar visual feature of the Village. A Village historic district is a group of officially designated properties, such as a neighborhood or street with specific boundaries that contain buildings which meet one or more of the criteria for designation of an individual landmark. The Village Building Department retains a list of all properties within boundaries of these districts, as well as a list of all individual landmarks.
If a building or district is historically designated, what does that mean?
It is important to be aware of the differences between national, state and local designations of historic properties or districts. National and state historic landmark or district designations are essentially honors that recognize the special nature of historic properties. Such designations DO NOT restrict what owners can or can not do with their properties. Moreover, no property can be listed on the National Register of Historic Places without the property owners consent. Designation at the local level confers a measure of protection to historic properties, discussed in the questions and answers below.
Why would I want my property/building designated an official Village Landmark or within a Designated Historic District?
Value, pride and assistance are the principal reasons to have your property/building designated an official landmark. Designation can stabilize and often increases property value, making your investment safer. Landmark status can increase sale potential and loan value due to lending institutions' perception of stability. There is the gratification of owning an identified/certified structure of architectural/historic integrity and the satisfaction that the buildings special historic, architectural or cultural character will be protected from destructive or insensitive rehabilitation in the future. Association with the BHPB can provide assistance and advise toward maintaining or altering a designated landmark. In addition, there are minor tax benefits, grants and certain building code leniency's that may apply to your property if it has landmark designation or is within a designated historic district. Furthermore, the owners of buildings in a designated district have the security that there will be no insensitive exterior alterations to adjacent building that will devaluate their property.
If I own a Village landmark or a property in an historic district, what can or can't I do to it?
You may maintain it as you would any building or property in the Village. However, if you wish to make any exterior alterations to that property, you must obtain a certificate of appropriateness from the BHPB. A certificate of appropriateness approved by the BHPB means that the proposed alteration is compatible with the appearance of the landmark in terms of design, scale, texture and materials.
What kind of projects require a certificate of appropriateness from the BHPB?
Any new construction, reconstruction, demolition, or moving of a building that requires a building permit, or any changes in material or appearance of the exterior of the property, would require a certificate of appropriateness. Examples include removal of a porch, adding a window or changing its original configuration, putting an extension onto a house, changing siding or roofing type, or site change such as moving a driveway or building a fence.
What projects do not require a certificate of appropriateness?
Any normal maintenance that does not alter the appearance of the property does not require a certificate of appropriateness. Examples are repairing windows, replacing a roof with like material, or restoring a fence using like materials. A change in paint color does not require a certificate of appropriateness unless such change exceeds the threshold of what might be considered acceptable taste, such as garish colors or kitschy pattern schemes not consistent with the existing building style and tone.
If I want to build an addition to my landmark structure, what are some things the BHPB might look at?
Each situation is different. The BHPB would only consider those parts of the addition that are visible from the exterior. It will look closely at overall design, scale, and proportions of the addition to determine whether it is compatible with the landmark building. Materials, window size and arrangement, roof shape and so on will be reviewed. The intent is to maintain that particular character that made the structure distinct and unique in the first place.
Can I get advice from the BHPB before I start designing my addition?
Yes, the BHPB is happy to advise landmark owners on developing a concept for their construction. Board members have a knowledge of and can suggest resources for architectural styles and details that reflect the owner's landmark structure and can be incorporated into the new construction.
How do I apply for a certificate of appropriateness?
Application forms are available from the Village Clerk at the Village Hall, 49 State Street. Submission of the complete application and required documents, such as plans, maps and drawings, must be made to the Building Department, who will then schedule a BHPB meeting within fifteen days. The applicant or agent should appear before the BHPB on the scheduled meeting night to explain the proposed changes. In most cases, the BHPB may approve the proposal the same night.
If my proposal also requires approvals from the Zoning and/or Planning Boards, which do I obtain first?
Application to the Zoning Board, Planning Board and BHPB may all be made at the same time.
Where may I obtain further information about the BHPB or the Village historic preservation law?
The information contained in these comments are introductory only and are not intended to cover all aspects of the preservation law, the BHPB or the landmark owner's responsibilities. A copy of the Historic Preservation Ordinance may be obtained from the Village Clerk. Further questions may directed to the BHPB through the Village Clerk or the Village Building and Zoning Department (637-5300) at the Village Hall, 49 State Street during regular work hours.