BY SARAH R. GREGORY
The Town of Greeneville's Zoning Ordinance outlines a specific procedure for making exterior changes to property that is located in the Greeneville Historic District.
The district consists mainly of Main Street from the G. Thomas Love Overpass on North Main Street to the Crescent School Building on West Main, plus a few adjacent blocks in the downtown area where there are properties considered historic.
Interior changes to properties located in the Historic District are not regulated by the Greeneville Historic Zoning Commission.
But, according to the ordinance, property-owners who wish to make changes to the outside of a Historic District property, or who want to demolish such a property, are required to first obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) from the Historic Zoning Commission.
The ordinance states that a Certificate of Appropriateness is required "for any construction, alteration, repair, rehabilitation, relocation, or demolition of any building, structure, or other improvement to real property situated within a historic district or zone, whether or not a building permit is required."
Approval by the Historic Zoning Commission is not required if property-owners are simply conducting maintenance or repair of structures or structural elements, if the exterior appearance and/or materials of the structures are not changed.
Approval is also not required for doors, decks, and other elements that are not visible from public right-of-ways.
Applications for a Certificate of Appropriateness are obtained from the office of the Town Building Official at Greeneville Town Hall, and submitted to the Historic Zoning Commission for review.
WORK REQUIRING APPROVAL
The following types of work require approval from the Historic Zoning Commission, according to the zoning ordinance:
architectural details, decorative elements, awnings and canopies, new construction, decks and porches in the front of the property, demolition, doors, chemical/water/sandblasting cleaning, fencing in the front, glass replacement, gutters and downspouts;
also, material changes, exterior paint colors not on approved paint list, parking lots, porches, public right-of-way improvements, retaining walls in the front of a property, changes or additions to roofing, new front sidewalks, new siding, new signs;
also, new or altered exterior staircases, new or altered exterior steps, changes to storm windows, doors, and security grills, and change in appearance, style, or size of windows and skylights.
30 DAYS TO CONSIDER
Following the completion and submission of an application for a Certificate of Appropriateness, the Historic Zoning Commission has 30 days to either approve the request, deny it, or approve it with attached conditions.
If the commission fails to approve or deny a request within 30 days, the application is considered to be approved, except in the following instances:
* a mutual agreement has been made to extend the 30-day time limit;
* the property owner or representative is not present at the scheduled, publicized meeting at which the item was on the agenda for consideration; or,
* when the property owner/petitioner has requested that the item be removed from the Historic Zoning Commission's agenda after public notice has been given but before the meeting date where the item was to be considered.
IF DENIED ... IF APPROVED
If the application for a Certificate of Appropriateness is denied, the Historic Zoning Commission must state the reasons for the denial in writing.
The applicant must also be given an explanation concerning what change(s) would be necessary in order for the application to be approved.
If the Certificate of Appropriateness is approved and issued by the Historic Zoning Commission, the person who submitted the application signs the certificate and the town's building inspector is notified.
The Certificate of Appropriateness is then taken to Town Hall for issuance of a Building Permit by the building official.
A Certificate of Appropriateness automatically expires six months after it is issued.
Following approval of a Certificate of Appropriateness, members of the Historic Zoning Commission have the authority to inspect the property to verify that there has been compliance with the conditions of approval, assuming that there were any conditions.
The commission must give 24 hours' advance notice for routine inspections, using methods outlined in the board's Rules of Order.
Notice is not required, however, "in situations where it is suspected unapproved exterior work" is being or has been performed.
BUILDING OFFICIAL'S ROLE
The Historic Zoning Ordinance clarifies that historic zoning provisions are to be enforced by the Town Building Official, who has "the right to enter upon any premises necessary to carry out his duties."
There is an appeals process for individuals "aggrieved by any final order or judgment of the Historic Zoning Commission."
Individuals may have the commission's order or judgment reviewed by the General Sessions Court through a procedure outlined by state law.
The penalty for violating provisions of the ordinance is a fine of not more than $500 for each offense, upon conviction of a misdemeanor.