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Sec. 7-9-2. Historic Preservation Overlay District.
(a)   Purpose. Local historic districts are hereby deemed important assets of the City of Asheville. The historic districts are established for the purpose of protecting and conserving the heritage of the City of Asheville, Buncombe County and the State of North Carolina; for the purpose of safeguarding the character and heritage of the historic districts by preserving the historic districts as a whole and individual property therein that embodies important elements of its culture, history, architectural history, or prehistory; for the purpose of promoting the conservation of such historic districts for the education, pleasure and enrichment of the residents of the historic districts, the City of Asheville, Buncombe County, and the State of North Carolina as a whole; for the purpose of fostering civic beauty; and for the purpose of stabilizing and enhancing property values throughout the historic districts as a whole; thereby contributing to the improvement of the general health and welfare of the City of Asheville and the residents of the historic districts.
(b)   Establishment of the historic districts. Pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 160D-944, local historic districts are hereby established as districts which overlay the general use zoning districts, the extent and boundaries of which historic districts are indicated on the official zoning maps for the City of Asheville. The city hereby re-adopts and designates as historic districts those historic districts described in appendix 7E of this chapter. Additional local historic districts may be established following the required statutory procedure.
(c)   Historic district commission. The Asheville-Buncombe Historic Resources Commission ("HRC") established by the City of Asheville in Ordinance No. 1109, and by the County of Buncombe in Ordinance No. 1644, shall constitute a joint preservation commission and shall have the powers of a joint preservation commission as set forth in N.C.G.S. part 4 of article 9 chapter 160D, or its successor.
(d)   Permitted uses. The historic districts contain several zoning classifications. All uses permitted in each of the zoning districts shall be permitted in the historic district pursuant to the requirements set forth in that zoning classification. Provided, however, when the provisions of this section 7-9-2, and the guidelines and regulations promulgated hereunder, impose higher standards than are required for that zoning classification, the provisions of this section, and the regulations and guidelines promulgated hereunder, shall govern.
(e)   Compliance with requirements. Structures within the historic districts shall meet all requirements and standards of article VIII of this chapter in addition to those set forth in this section. Provided, however, no structure or part thereof within the historic districts shall extend nearer to or be required to be set back further from the front property line than the arithmetic mean distance of the setbacks of the nearest principal building within 150 feet on each side of such building and fronting on the same side of the street. Additionally, proposed subdivisions within historic districts must be reviewed by the HRC as part of the overall subdivision review process in accordance with article XV of this chapter.
(f)   Authentic restoration and reconstruction.
(1)   Authentic restoration or reconstruction is permitted, subject to approval of the HRC, even though the authentic restoration or reconstruction does not meet with current setback and other requirements and standards of article VIII of this chapter. Authentic restoration or reconstruction shall mean exact replication of an historic structure to include, but not limited to siting, scale, massing, and materials of structure. Where it is found by the HRC that an application for a building permit covers activity consisting of an authentic restoration or reconstruction in the same location as the original location and in the original structural conformation for a structure of historic and/or architectural significance to the historic district, such activity may be approved by the HRC.
(2)   The board of adjustment hears requests for variances from the requirements for setback and other standards established by article VIII of this chapter.
a.   The board of adjustment, may attach reasonable and appropriate conditions to the granting of such variances so that the public health, safety, and general welfare shall be protected.
b.   The board of adjustment shall not be authorized, in action undertaken by this subsection, to approve a use of property which is not permitted by right within the zoning district in which the property is located.
(g)   Parking waiver. Where the HRC, in considering an application for a certificate of appropriateness, shall find that the number of off-street parking spaces required by zoning regulations for a building or structure for which a building permit is requested would render the building incongruous with the historic aspects of the historic district, it may recommend to the board of adjustment that a variance be granted from the off-street parking requirements.
The board of adjustment may authorize a lesser number of off-street parking spaces provided the board finds, in addition to the required findings for granting a variance, as follows:
(1)   That the reduced number of spaces will not create problems due to increased on-street parking; and
(2)   That the reduced number of spaces will not constitute a threat to the public safety.
(h)   Certificate of appropriateness.
(1)   From and after the designation of a historic district, no exterior portion of any building or other structure (including masonry walls, fences, light fixtures, steps, pavement, landscape and color or other appurtenant features), nor above ground utility structure, nor any type of outdoor advertising sign shall be erected, altered, restored, moved or demolished within such historic district until after an application for a certificate of appropriateness has been submitted to and approved by the HRC. Further, no historic sign, significant landscape, archeological and natural features of the area associated with such a structure or building shall be altered, moved, or removed within such historic district until after an application for a certificate of appropriateness has been submitted to and approved by the HRC. Further, no subdivision of land within a historic district shall be approved until it has been reviewed and approved in accordance with the provisions of section 7-5-8 of this chapter. This provision shall not apply to subdivisions which are exempted pursuant to section 7-15-1 of this chapter.
No building permit granted for the purposes of constructing, altering, moving, or demolishing structures within the historic districts shall be issued prior to the issuance of a certificate of appropriateness by the HRC.
A certificate of appropriateness may be issued subject to reasonable conditions to carry out the purposes of this section. A certificate of appropriateness shall be required whether or not a building permit is required. Any building permit or such other permit not issued in conformity with this section shall be invalid.
For the purpose of this section, "exterior features" shall include the architectural style, general design, and general arrangement of the exterior building or other structure, including the kind, texture and color of the building materials, the size and scale of the building, and the type, color and style of all windows, doors, light fixtures, signs and other appurtenant fixtures and important landscape and natural features of the lot on which the building or other structure is located. In the case of outdoor advertising signs, "exterior features" shall be construed to mean the style, material, size, and location of all such signs. Such "exterior features" also included historic signs, significant landscape, archaeological, and natural features of the area.
The HRC shall have no jurisdiction over interior arrangement and shall take no action under this section except for the purpose of preventing the construction, reconstruction, alteration, restoration, moving, or demolition of buildings, structures, appurtenant fixtures, outdoor advertising signs, or other significant features in the historic district which would be incongruous with the special character of the historic district.
(2)   Permitted alterations and uses for historic buildings within historic district. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the ordinary maintenance or repair of any exterior architectural feature in the historic district which does not involve a substantial change in design, material, or outer appearance thereof, nor to prevent the construction, re-construction, alteration, restoration, or demolition of any such feature which the chief building inspector or his designee shall certify in writing to the HRC is required by the public safety because of an unsafe or dangerous condition.
(3)   Delay in demolition of buildings within historic district. An application for a certificate of appropriateness authorizing the relocation, demolition, or destruction of a building or structure or the removal or obliteration of an archeological resource within the historic district may not be denied except for as set forth hereinafter. However, the effective date of such a certificate may be delayed for a period of up to 365 days from the date of approval of the certificate of appropriateness. The maximum period of delay authorized by this subsection shall be reduced by the HRC where it finds that the owner would suffer extreme hardship or be permanently deprived of all beneficial use of or return from such property by virtue of the delay. During such period the HRC may negotiate with the owner and with any other parties in an effort to find a means of preserving the building, structure of site. If the HRC finds that the building, structure or site has no special significance or value toward maintaining the character of the historic district, it shall waive all or part of such period and authorize earlier demolition or removal.
If the HRC has voted to recommend designation of an area as a historic district, and final designation has not been made by the city council, the demolition or destruction of any building, structure, or site located in the proposed historic district may be delayed by the HRC for a period of up to 180 days or until the city council takes final action on the designation, whichever occurs first.
It shall constitute a violation of this chapter by the property owner where any building or structure which is located within a historic district is subject to demolition by neglect; provided, however, where the property owner can show evidence of undue economic hardship satisfactory to the HRC, no violation shall be deemed to have occurred.
An application for a certificate of appropriateness authorizing the demolition or destruction of a building, structure, or site determined by the State Historic Preservation officer, or his/her successor, as having statewide significance as defined in the criteria of the National Register of Historic Places may be denied except where the HRC finds that the owner would suffer extreme hardship or be permanently deprived of all beneficial use or return by virtue of the denial.
The procedures for obtaining a certificate of appropriateness are set forth in section 7-5-11 of this chapter.
(Ord. No. 2369, § 1, 5-27-97; Ord. No. 4736, §§ 1f, g, 3-26-19; Ord. No. 4836, § 1(e), 10-27-20)