Architectural Review Board

Process Brochure (PDF) | Local Historic District Guidelines (PDF) | Filing Deadlines (PDF)  | Board Members

Applications (for Historic Districts only)

About the Board

The Architectural Review Board (ARB) reviews all exterior alterations, new construction, and some demolition in the city’s local historic districts for issuance of Certificates of Appropriateness (COA’s). For all other design applications, the ARB recommends to the Planning Commission.

The decisions that take place within locally designated historic districts are based generally on the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and New Construction; and specifically on the Local Design Guidelines. In addition, the ARB reviews public projects and private projects that are on land purchased form the city or encroaching onto city property.

For applications within the locally designated historic districts, you will now see notices posted on properties that have pending applications. Sample Notice


Unless otherwise noted, all meetings will be held in the Council Chambers on the 11th floor of City Hall at 4 p.m. There is typically a pre-meeting at 3:45 p.m. See the agenda for details: View All Agendas


Depending on the nature of the project, the following should be submitted:

  • Site plans, floor plans, building elevations with appropriate detail on the design of doors, windows, ornamentation, signs, lighting, visible mechanical equipment, and other details
  • Landscape plans
  • Proposed signs
  • Proposed lighting
  • Samples of colors and materials
  • Preliminary engineering plans for streets, paths, parking lots, etc
  • Photographs of the site, building, and/or surrounding properties
  • Any other information that would assist the committee in evaluating the application

Procedure in Local Historic Districts

  • The applicant presents their request to the ARB
  • Staff presents the request to the ARB
  • The ARB may approve or deny the application

Procedure not in Local Historic Districts

  • The applicant presents their request to the ARB
  • Staff presents the request to the ARB
  • The ARB recommends approval or denial of the application to the Planning Commission
  • Staff presents the application to the Planning Commission
  • Planning Commission grants final approval or denial.

Time Frame

  • 2 Weeks



No building permit shall be issued and no certificate of occupancy issued, unless a certificate of appropriateness has first been obtained. In addition, the Board of Zoning Appeals shall take no action in cases where certificates of appropriateness are involved until such certificates are obtained.

SurveyNFK - Norfolk Historic Resource Survey