§ 112-50. Legislative authority.
A. The West Chester Historic District is hereby established in accordance
with the provisions of an Act entitled An Act Authorizing Counties,
Cities, Boroughs, Incorporated Towns and Townships To Create Historic
Districts Within Their Geographic Boundaries; Providing for the Appointment
of Boards of Historical Architectural Review; Empowering Governing Bodies
of Political Subdivisions To Protect the Distinctive Historical Character
of These Districts and To Regulate the Erection, Reconstruction, Alteration,
Restoration, Demolition or Razing of Buildings Within the Historic Districts.
B. The Act was adopted by the General Assembly No. 167 of the Commonwealth
of Pennsylvania and approved by the Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
on the 13th day of June 1961, and was amended by act of the General Assembly
No. 24 on the 23rd day of April 1963.EN [Note: This chapter shall take
effect immediately upon receipt of notification of certification of historical
significance of the West Chester Historic District by resolution of the
Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission and satisfaction of the requirement
for advertisement required by existing law.]
§ 112-51. Purpose.
The West Chester Historic District is created for the following purposes:
A. To protect those portions of the Borough of West Chester which reflect
the cultural, economic, social, political and architectural history of
the borough, the state and the nation.
B. To awaken or reinforce in our people an interest in our historic past.
C. To promote the use and reuse of the West Chester Historic District
for the culture, education, pleasure and general welfare of the people
of the borough, the state and the nation.
D. To advocate an interest in civic beauty through the encouragement of
appropriate settings and continued construction of buildings in general
harmony with respect to style, form, color, proportion, texture and material
between buildings of historic design and those of more modern design.
E. To strengthen the economy of the borough by stabilizing and improving
property values within the Historic District.
§ 112-52. Additional definitions
The following terms, as in Article II, shall have the meanings indicated
ALTERATION Any change or rearrangement in the structural parts
of a building or structure or in the means of egress; any change to or
in a building which would alter its use classification; an enlargement,
whether by extending on a side or by increasing in height; or the moving
of a structure from one location or position to another. See also structural
BOARD OF HISTORICAL AND ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW The Board, referred
to as the HARB, which conducts reviews of proposed building
construction and/or alteration work within the Historic District and performs
other duties as set forth in this chapter.
CERTIFIED HISTORIC DISTRICT An historic district which has been
delineated by the Borough of West Chester and certified for historical
significance by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in accordance
with Pennsylvania Act No. 167.EN
CERTIFIED HISTORIC STRUCTURE A building or structure identified
by the Borough of West Chester and listed in the National Register of
Historic Places or located within a registered historic district and certified
by the Secretary of the Interior as being of historical significance to
CERTIFIED REHABILITATION Rehabilitation/construction plans and
work which has been approved by the National Park Service in order to
qualify for federal historic preservation tax incentives.
CONTRIBUTING RESOURCE(S) A resource in an historic district or
historic complex which, as filed with the National Register or the Bureau
for Historic Preservation, supports the districts or complexs
historical significance through location, design, setting, materials,
workmanship, feeling and association.
DETERMINATION OF ELIGIBILITY (DOE) The process wherein an historic
resource is determined by the Secretary of the Interior as meeting National
Register criteria, but not listed in the National Register.
HISTORIC BUILDING, STRUCTURE OR SITE Any building,
structure or site that is officially recognized for its historic and/or
architectural significance by the United States Department of the Interior,
the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, the Chester County
Historic Preservation Office or the West Chester Historical and Architectural
Review Board or is designated as contributing to a National Register or
Municipal Historic District.
HISTORIC DISTRICT Any area or district within the Borough of West
Chester designated by ordinance of the Borough of West Chester pursuant
to Act No. 167 adopted by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania and approved by the Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
on the 13th day of June 1961, as amended by Act of the General Assembly
No. 24 on the 23rd day of April 1963.EN
HISTORIC RESOURCE(S) All buildings, sites, structures, objects
and districts shown on the Borough of West Chester Historic Resources
Map and sites, areas, structures, trails and/or routes which are valued
due to their significance as examples and/or locations of events, customs,
skills and/or arts of the past.
HISTORIC RESOURCES INVENTORY An official list, appropriately documented,
of historic resources in the Borough of West Chester and their classifications.
HISTORIC RESOURCES MAP A map, adopted as part of this chapter,
showing historic resources and their respective classifications.
MINOR REPAIR The replacement of existing work with equivalent materials
for the purpose of its routine maintenance and upkeep, but not including
the cutting away of any wall, partition or portion thereof, the removal
or cutting of any structural beam or bearing support or the removal or
change of any required means of egress or rearrangement of parts of a
structure affecting the exitway requirements; nor shall minor repairs
include addition to, alteration of, replacement of or relocation of any
stand pipe, water supply sewer, drainage, drain leader, gas, soil, waste,
vent or similar piping, electric wiring or mechanical or other work affecting
public health or general safety.
NATIONAL REGISTER The National Register of Historic Places, a list
maintained by the Secretary of the Interior composed of buildings, sites,
structures, objects and districts of national, state or local significance
in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering and culture.
NATIONAL REGISTER HISTORIC DISTRICT Any area or district listed
in the National Register of Historic Places as maintained by the National
Park Service, United States Department of the Interior, such as the West
Chester Downtown Historic District.
PUBLIC STREET OR WAY Any land dedicated to public use or passage,
including but not limited to streets, alleys, parks and pedestrian rights-of-way,
whether constructed, dedicated or proposed.
REGISTERED HISTORIC DISTRICT An historic district
listed in the National Register of Historic Places or a state or local
historic district whose statute has been certified by the Secretary of
the Interior and which is certified as meeting substantially all the requirements
for National Register listing.
REHABILITATION The process of returning a property to a state of
utility through repair or alteration, which provides for a contemporary
use while preserving those portions and features of the property which
are significant to its historical, architectural and cultural values.
REPAIR The replacement of existing construction with the same material
for the purpose of maintenance only, but not including any addition, removal
or modification in construction.
SECRETARY OF THE INTERIORS STANDARDS FOR REHABILITATION Standards
used by the Secretary of the Interior, as administered by the National
Park Service, when determining if a rehabilitation project qualifies as
a certified rehabilitation pursuant to the Tax Reform Act of 1986.
STRUCTURAL ALTERATION Any change in or addition to the supporting
or structural members of a building or other structure, such as the bearing
walls, fire separation walls, partitions, columns, beams or girders; or
any change which could convert an existing building or other structure
into a different structure or adapt the structure to a different use or
which, in the case of a nonconforming building or other structure, would
prolong the life of such building or other structure.
SUBSTANTIAL IMPROVEMENT Any repair, reconstruction or improvement
of a structure, the cost of which equals or exceeds fifty percent (50%)
of the market value of the structure either before the improvement or
repair is started or, if the structure had been damaged and is being restored,
before the damage occurred. A substantial improvement is considered
to occur when the first alteration of any wall, ceiling, floor or other
structural part of the building commences, whether or not the alteration
affects the external dimensions of the structure. The term does not, however,
include either any project for improvement of a structure to comply with
existing state or municipal health, sanitary or safety codes which are
solely necessary to assure safe living conditions or any alteration of
a structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places or the
Pennsylvania Inventory of Historic Places.
WEST CHESTER DOWNTOWN HISTORIC DISTRICT An historic
district listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
§ 112-53. General provisions.
A. The West Chester Historic District is shown on the West Chester Historic
District Map, which is hereby adopted by reference and declared to be
a part of this chapter. The provisions of this Article shall be applied
to all land, buildings and structures which are viewed or may be viewed
from a public way within the boundaries of the West Chester Historic District.
B. The West Chester Historic District shall be considered as an overlay
to various districts as shown on the Zoning Map.
C. Interpretation of boundaries.
(1) Boundaries indicated as approximately following the center lines of
streets or alleys shall be construed to follow such center lines.
(2) Boundaries indicated as approximately following lot lines shall be
construed as following such lines.
(3) Boundaries indicated as parallel to or extensions of features indicated
above shall be so construed. Distances not specifically indicated on the
map shall be determined by the scale of the map.
(4) Where topographical or man-made features existing on the ground are
at variance with those shown on the map or in other circumstances not
covered by the above, the Borough Council shall interpret the boundaries
of the district.
D. Projects that the Secretary of the Interior, as administered by the
National Park Service, has approved as certified rehabilitation are deemed
approved and need not be reviewed according to the provisions of this
Article, provided that:
(1) Copies [one (1) each] of the Part 1, Evaluation of Significance, and
Part 2, Description of Rehabilitation Work, applications, along with evidence
of their approval from the National Park Service, are submitted to the
Building Inspector; and
(2) The project is proposed to be completed as stated in the Part 2 application.
E. No permanent sign or other structure within the West Chester Historic
District may be constructed, altered or otherwise changed, in whole or
part, nor may the exterior architectural character of any structure be
altered until after an application for a building permit has been fully
reviewed by the Historical and Architectural Review Board (HARB), recommended
for a certificate of appropriateness by the HARB and approved by the Borough
Council. [Amended 5-20-1992 by Ord. No. 7-1992]
F. If any proposal for construction, alteration or other change in the
Historic District involves subdivision or land development approval by
the Borough Council, all approvals therefor shall be obtained prior to
application for building permits and HARB review.
G. No structure within the West Chester Historic District may be demolished
or removed, in whole or in part, until after the application for a building
and/or demolition permit has been reviewed by the HARB and approved by
the Borough Council.
H. Uses of properties within the Historic District shall be in accordance
with the zoning district in which the land and/or buildings are situated.
I. Evidence of the approval required above shall be a certificate of appropriateness
issued by the Borough Council. The certificate shall be a statement signed
by the President of the Council stating that the application for the proposed
work is approved.
J. Any person requesting a permit under this Article
shall be entitled to a hearing on such request before the HARB according
to the provisions of § 112-56.
K. Nothing in this Article shall be construed to prevent the routine maintenance
or repair of any exterior elements of any building or structure, nor shall
anything in this Article be construed to prevent the construction, reconstruction,
alteration or demolition of any such elements which the Borough Council
shall certify as required for public safety.
L. The HARB may determine that minor changes to buildings need not undergo
the same level of scrutiny as major changes to buildings. Examples of
minor changes might include such items as repainting, repointing of stone
and reconstruction of steps or a roof.
§ 112-54. Applicability.
It is the intent of this Article that the requirements contained herein
shall only pertain to construction, reconstruction, restoration, rehabilitation,
alteration, razing or demolition on sites located within the West Chester
Historic District (and other historic districts as may be established
by amendment or ordinance of the Borough of West Chester). This includes
but is not limited to cleaning methods, such as sandblasting or solvent
washdown; the application of nonstructural surface textures or veneers,
such as stucco or siding; replacement of similar types of windows, doors
and other minor building elements; the alteration of decorative elements,
such as cornices or trim; and other work affecting the visual appearance
of a building within the district which can be seen from a public street
§ 112-55. Powers and duties of Building Inspector A. The Building Inspector shall issue a permit
for the construction, alteration, restoration, demolition or razing of
a building in the Historic District only after the proposal is found to
be in accordance with this chapter and the Subdivision and Land Development
Ordinance and the Borough Council has issued a certificate of appropriateness.
Upon receipt of a written disapproval by the Borough Council, the Building
Inspector shall disapprove the application for a permit and so advise
B. The Building Inspector is authorized to issue a permit for the construction,
alteration or restoration of a building in the Historic District if evidence
is presented that the project is an approved certified rehabilitation
according to the provisions of § 112-53C. Approved certified rehabilitation
projects need not be reviewed by the HARB or the Borough Council.
C. Upon receipt of an application for a building permit for work to be
done in the West Chester Historic District, the Building Inspector shall
act in accordance with the documented procedures in acting upon an application
for a building permit, except as those procedures are necessarily modified
by the following requirements:
(1) The Building Inspector shall inform the applicant of the specific
requirements for the issuance of a building permit, including application
procedures and materials to be submitted as set forth herein, within the
West Chester Historic District and of the time and place of the meeting
and/or hearing before the HARB at which he/she may appear to explain the
(2) The Building Inspector shall forward to the Chairman of the HARB a
copy of the application for a building permit, together with copies of
the documents and materials filed by the applicant
(3) The Building Inspector shall maintain a record of all such applications
and final dispositions of the same, which shall be in addition to and
appropriately cross-referenced to other records.
D. The Building Inspector shall have the power to institute any proceedings
at law or in equity necessary for the enforcement of this Article in the
same manner as in his/her enforcement of any other provision of the Zoning
§ 112-56. Historical and Architectural Review
A. Establishment, composition, appointment and terms of members.
(1) The Historical and Architectural Review Board, hereinafter also referred
to as the HARB, is hereby established, to be composed of not
fewer than seven (7) members, appointed by the Borough Council, one (1)
of whom shall be a registered architect, one (1) a licensed real estate
broker, one (1) a member of the Planning Commission and one (1) a Building
Inspector, and the remaining members shall have a knowledge of and an
interest in the preservation of the West Chester Historic District. A
majority of the members must be residents of the Borough of West Chester.
(2) The position of any member of the HARB appointed in his/her capacity
as a registered architect, a licensed real estate broker, a member of
the Planning Commission or the Building Inspector who ceases to be so
engaged shall be automatically considered vacant.
(3) The initial terms of the members of the HARB shall be as follows:
one (1) member shall be appointed to serve until the first day of January
following the effective date of this chapter, two (2) members shall be
appointed to serve until the first day of the second January thereafter;
two (2) members shall be appointed to serve until the first day of the
third January thereafter; and two (2) members shall be appointed to serve
until the first day of the fourth January thereafter. The Borough Council
shall appoint their successors on the expiration of their respective terms
to serve for periods of three (3) years. An appointment to fill a vacancy
shall be only for the unexpired portion of the term.
(4) The HARB shall elect its own Chairman, Vice Chairman and Secretary
and create and fill such other offices as it may determine. Officers shall
serve annual terms and may succeed themselves. The HARB may make and alter
bylaws and regulations to govern its procedures consistent with the ordinances
of the Borough of West Chester and the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
(5) Any member may be removed from the HARB for cause, by a majority vote
of the Borough Council.
B. Duties and powers of the HARB.
(1) The HARB shall give counsel to the Borough Council regarding the advisability
of issuing a certificate of appropriateness, to be executed at a public
meeting of the latter. The HARBS recommendation to the Borough Council
shall be in the form of a written report.
(2) The HARB shall keep on file up-to-date maps of the following:
(a) The location of historic buildings, structures and sites as defined
in Article II of this chapter.
(b) Historic districts established by this chapter and amendments as may
be adopted by the borough.
(3) A majority of the HARB shall constitute a quorum, and action taken
at any meeting shall require the affirmative vote of a quorum.
(4) The members of the HARB shall serve without compensation but may be
reimbursed for direct expenses.
(5) The HARB shall make an annual report to the Borough Council, which
should include but not be limited to an accounting of expenditures, justification
for the appropriation of funds for the upcoming year, a record of actions
taken by the HARB in the preceding year and any recommendations for changes
to this Article.
(6) The HARB shall hold a regularly scheduled monthly public meeting,
provided that there is business to conduct, and shall record minutes and
transmit them to the Borough Council.
(7) The HARB shall hold any additional public meetings and hearings as
necessary to execute its powers and duties as required by this Article
or the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
C. In addition to the above, upon specific authorization by the Borough
Council, the HARB may be empowered to engage in the following activities:
(1) To conduct a survey of buildings for the purpose of determining those
of historic and/or architectural significance, pertinent facts about them
and any action to be undertaken in coordination with the Planning Commission
and/or other appropriate groups and to maintain and periodically revise
the detailed listings of historic sites and buildings and data about them,
appropriately classified with respect to national, state or local significance
and to period or field of interest.
(2) To propose, from time to time as deemed appropriate, the establishment
of additional historic districts and revisions to existing Historic District
(3) To cooperate with and advise the Borough Council, the Planning Commission
or other borough agencies in matters involving historically and/or architecturally
significant sites and buildings, such as appropriate land usage, parking
facilities and signs, as well as adherence to lot dimensional regulations
and minimum structural standards.
(4) To cooperate with and enlist assistance, from time to time, from the
National Park Service, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, the Chester County Historical
Society, the Chester County Historic Preservation Office and other agencies,
public and private, concerned with historic
sites and buildings.
§ 112-57. Preapplication review procedure.
A. Prior to the preparation of working drawings and specifications or
calling for proposals or bids from contractors and/or developers, owners
or agents may prepare preliminary scale drawings and outline specifications,
including color samples for outside work, for review and informal discussion
with the HARB. The purpose of this review shall be to acquaint the developer,
owner or agent with standards of appropriateness of design that are required
of his/her proposed development.
B. The preapplication review shall not require formal application but
does require notice to be given to the Building Inspector and subsequent
notification of the Chairman of the HARB at least seven (7) working days
before the date of the meeting at which the preliminary drawings are to
be discussed. Ten (10) copies of all documents shall be submitted to the
Building Inspector, who shall forward one (1) copy to the Chairman of
the HARB. [Amended 8-28-1991 by Ord. No. 17-1991; 4-20-1994 by Ord. No.
C. In the case of very minor projects involving repairs or alterations
to existing buildings, the HARB, if preliminary drawings and other data
are sufficiently clear and explicit, may recommend to the Zoning Officer
that a building permit be issued after approval by a majority of members
attending the review session at which the proposal is presented. The HARB
will inform Borough Council of any action by memo directed to the appropriate
subcommittee of Counsel. [Amended 4-20-1994 by Ord. No. 2-1994]
§ 112-58. Review by Historical and Architectural
A. Upon determination by the Building Inspector and the HARB that a complete
application for a building permit for the erection, reconstruction, alteration,
restoration, rehabilitation, demolition or razing of a building or buildings
or other structures in the Historic District has been filed, the HARB
shall review the permit application at its regularly scheduled public
meeting or at a special hearing, to take place within forty-five (45)
days of the date of the filing of the complete application, to consider
the counsel which it will give to the Borough Council. The applicant for
the permit shall be advised of the time and place of said hearing and
shall be invited to appear to explain his/her reasons therefor. Additional
hearings, if necessary, shall be scheduled within thirty (30) days of
each other, unless mutually agreed otherwise by the HARB and the applicant.
[Amended 5-20-1992 by Ord. No. 7-1992]
B. [Amended 5-20-1992 by Ord. No. 7-1992] Within forty-five (45) days
of the occurrence of the final hearing upon an application for a permit
for the erection, reconstruction, alteration, restoration, rehabilitation,
demolition or razing of a building or buildings or other structures in
the Historic District, the HARB shall recommend to the Borough Council
the approval or denial of the certificate of appropriateness.
(1) In cases where the issuance of a certificate of appropriateness is
recommended, the HARB shall forthwith transmit a written report to the
Borough Council stating the basis upon which such a recommendation for
approval was made. If the HARB shall fail to transmit such report within
forty-five (45) days after the occurrence of the final hearing concerning
an application for a permit, the application shall be forwarded to Borough
Council with no recommendation, except where mutual agreement has been
made for an extension of the time limit.
(2) In the case where relatively minor changes in the applicants
plans and specifications will meet the HARBs conditions for recommendation
for approval, the HARB may recommend conditional approval for the issuance
of a certificate of appropriateness. A written report to the Borough Council
(copied to the applicant) shall clearly state these conditions. If the
applicant decides to make these changes, he/she shall so notify the HARB
and the Borough Council, in writing, prior to the next regularly scheduled
meeting of the Borough Council.
(3) In the case of a recommendation not to issue a certificate of appropriateness,
the HARB shall transmit a written report to the Borough Council within
forty-five (45) days after the occurrence of the final hearing, stating
the reasons therefor. The report shall state the reasons for a recommendation
for disapproval and the changes necessary to obtain approval. The applicant
shall be informed, in writing, of the HARBs decision and of the
reasons for the recommendation for disapproval.