HARB (Historic Architectural Review Board)
The New Hope Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB) and Borough Council must approve (by issuance of a Certificate of Appropriateness) all changes and modifications to the exteriors of buildings and structures that are visible from a public street or way in the Borough’s Historic District.
A property owner may submit an application to HARB for review of a Concept Plan, or may submit detailed construction plans and drawings along with separate zoning and building permit applications for review by the Zoning Officer and Code Official. If these officials determine that a Certificate of Appropriateness is required, they will direct the property owner to submit an application to HARB.
HARB History and Purpose
In 1961 the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania approved The Historic District Act to provide municipalities with a tool to protect “…those historical areas within our great Commonwealth, which have a distinctive character recalling the rich architectural and historic heritage of Pennsylvania.” The Act authorized the establishment of local Historic Districts and Historic Architectural Review Boards.
Historic Districts within the Borough and the New Hope Borough Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB) were established in 1987 by Ordinance 183‐A1. This ordinance demonstrated the commitment of the citizens of New Hope to preserve and protect buildings of architectural and historic significance and the cultural heritage of the community.
The New Hope Borough Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB) consists of nine (9) members appointed by Borough Council to serve three‐year overlapping terms. HARB provides counsel and recommendations to Borough Council on the advisability of issuing Certificates of Appropriateness, which are required in order to erect, reconstruct, alter, restore, demolish or raze any building or structure within a Historic District.
In considering whether or not to issue a Certificate of Appropriateness, HARB and Council
consider the general design, arrangement, texture, material, and color of the building or
structures and the relation of such factors to similar features of buildings and structures in
the Historic District. The issuance of a Certificate of Appropriateness demonstrates that the
property owner, HARB and Council have agreed that a proposed change to the exterior of a
building will be consistent with, and preserve the general historic and architectural features
of the Historic District.
The jurisdiction of HARB and Council is limited to exterior architectural features of buildings and structures (including fences, signs, retaining walls, etc.) that can be seen from a public street or way. Modifications to the interior of a structure are exempt from HARB requirements, although construction permits may be required before such work can proceed.
Applying for a Certificate of Appropriateness
Before a zoning or building permit can be issued for exterior work within the New Hope
Borough Historic District, a “Certificate of Appropriateness” is required.
The following activities within the Historic District require a Certificate of Appropriateness reviewed by HARB and approved by Borough Council.
Types of Plan Reviews-- Concept Review, Administrative Review, Formal Review
HARB Concept Review – An applicant may request comments from the Historic
Architectural Review Board at any time in the planning process for a proposed project. The purpose of the Concept Review is to allow HARB members to provide informal comments and opinions on the historical appropriateness of a proposed project without issuing a formal recommendation to Borough Council for a Certificate of Appropriateness. Applicants requesting a Concept Review must submit an application to be heard at an upcoming HARB public meeting by contacting Borough Hall no later than ten (10) business days before the HARB meeting date. An applicant should provide all information required by HARB. Adequate information provided well in advance of a scheduled meeting will promote discussion and encourage helpful comments on the application.
Administrative Review – An applicant for zoning and construction permits must provide the Zoning Officer and the Code Official with complete applications, satisfying all submission criteria developed by HARB and all information necessary for zoning and construction permit reviews. The Zoning Officer and Code Official will determine the completeness of the application and advise applicants of any required supplemental information. These officials will then determine if the application is appropriate for an Administrative Review. The Code Official and Zoning Officer will evaluate the application using the HARB design standards found in Chaper 10, Appendix A, and Design Guidelines of the Code of Ordinances. Appendix A is a set of pre-determined standards. If the Zoning Officer and Code Official determine that the application satisfies HARB’s Predetermined Standards, as well as the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance and the construction codes, the Borough will issue the zoning and construction permits necessary to commence work. If the Zoning Officer and Code Official determine that the application fails to comply with HARB’s Predetermined Standards, the Borough will promptly notify the applicant in writing of the decision, and the applicant will be given an opportunity to revise and resubmit the application or to request a formal meeting with, and review by HARB.
HARB Formal Review – In cases where a proposed change to the exterior of a building or structure does not comply with HARB’s Predetermined Standards, the applicant must first submit zoning and construction permit applications to the Zoning Officer and Code Official, who will determine compliance of the application with the standards of the Zoning Ordinance and construction codes. If the Zoning Officer and Code Official determine that the application complies with the applicable ordinances and codes, the applicant will be directed to apply for and obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness prior to the start of construction and will be directed to attend the next regularly scheduled HARB meeting, provided that the HARB application is submitted a minimum of ten (10) business days prior to the meeting date. The applicant must receive a Certificate of Appropriateness from Borough Council before issuance of zoning or construction permits
Procedure For Obtaining a Certificate of Appropriateness
First, determine if your property is located in a Borough Historic District. You may examine a Historic District map at Borough Hall, or you may obtain this information by calling Ms. JoAnn Connell at Borough Hall at 215‐862‐3347, or you may view and download the zoning map on the Code of Ordinances & Zoning Map page.
Second, you may obtain an application for a Certificate of Appropriateness at Borough Hall, located at 123 New Street, or by downloading the Certificate of Appropriateness form. There is no application or review fee, although applicants may be charged an amount not to exceed $10.00 for property photographs taken by the Borough staff.
Third, submit your application to Borough Hall. Applicants are required to submit fourteen (14) copies of the completed application form, along with all necessary support documents, plans, and specifications.
Completed applications must be submitted a minimum of ten (10) business days prior to the monthly HARB meeting. It is recommended that applicants submit the required zoning and construction code permit applications a minimum of twenty (20) business days prior to the HARB monthly meeting date to allow the Zoning Officer and Code Official sufficient time to determine compliance with the applicable ordinances and codes. HARB meets at 125 New Street on the first Tuesday of each month at 7:00 P.M.
After review and acceptance of an application by HARB, the application and HARB’s recommendations will be forwarded to the New Hope Borough Council for consideration of issuance of a Certificate of Appropriateness.
Applicants are encouraged to attend both HARB and Council meetings to answer questions and to avoid delays. Written decisions are mailed to all applicants. The process of obtaining zoning and construction permits continues after Council issues a Certificate of Appropriateness.
All plans must be submitted to the Zoning Officer and Code Official to determine compliance with the Zoning Ordinance and the Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code prior to applying for a Certificate of Appropriateness.
Applications for zoning and construction permits, along with applicable fees, are required prior to submission of an application to HARB.
For questions regarding procedures and other requirements, please contact the Zoning Officer at 215‐862‐3347.
Click on the links below to download PDF file:
HARB Guidelines for Applicants
The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties