(A)   Purpose.  The Historic Overlay District, hereinafter referred to as the District, is one of the most valued and important assets of Lincolnton. It is established for the purpose of protecting and conserving the heritage of the city, county and state; for the purpose of safeguarding the character and heritage of the District by preserving the District as a whole and any individual property therein that embodies important elements of its social, economic, cultural, political, or architectural history; for the purpose of promoting the conservation of the District for the education, pleasure and enrichment of residents of the district and the city, county and state as a whole; for the purpose of fostering civic beauty; and for the purpose of stabilizing and enhancing property values throughout the district as a whole, thus contributing to the improvement of the general health and welfare of the city and the residents of the District.
   (B)   Historic District establishment.
      (1)   The Historic Overlay District is hereby established as a district which overlaps and overlays existing zoning districts, the extent and boundaries of which are as indicated on the official zoning map for the city. The boundaries of the Historic Overlay District are as shown on the official zoning map.
      (2)   The requirements of the (HO) Historic Overlay District shall be additional to other zoning district requirements and when in conflict with other zoning district requirements, shall prevail over other requirements of any zoning district or portions thereof which are within the designated (HO) District.
   (C)   Permitted uses.  The Historic Overlay District contains several zoning classifications. All uses permitted in any district, whether by right or as a conditional use, are allowed in the Historic District according to the procedures established for the uses.
   (D)   Required conformance to dimensional regulations; exceptions.
      (1)   Structures within the Historic Overlay District shall observe the dimensional and other regulations of this chapter, except as follows:
         (a)   No structure or part thereof shall extend nearer to or be required to be set back further from the front lot line than the average distance of the setbacks of the nearest principal buildings within 100 feet on each side of the building and fronting on the same side of the street;
         (b)   Height (reserved);
         (c)   Side yard (reserved); and
         (d)   Rear (reserved).
      (2)   It is the intent of this section to supersede, within the Historic Overlay District, the dimensional regulations of the basic districts applying to the property.
   (E)   Authentic restoration or reconstruction.
      (1)   Permitted subject to approval of Historic District Commission and Board of Adjustment, although not complying with dimensional regulations. Where it is found by the Historic District Commission that an application for a building permit covers activity constituting an authentic restoration or reconstruction in the same location as the original location and in the original conformation of the structure of historic and/or architectural significance to the Historic District, the activity may be approved by the Board of Adjustment, following approval by the Historic District Commission.
      (2)   Approval subject to conditions.  The Board of Adjustment, in approaching the authentic reconstruction or restoration, may attach reasonable and appropriate conditions to the approval, so that the public health, safety and general welfare shall be protected.
      (3)   Approval, limitation on.
         (a)   The Board of Adjustment shall not be authorized, in action undertaken by this section, to approve a use of property that is not a use permitted by right or for which a conditional use permit has been granted by the City Council.
         (b)   In addition to any other conditions the Board of Adjustment may make regarding the authorization, any items restored, reconstructed, or maintained on, over, or within a public sidewalk, public alley area, or other public way shall be the responsibility of the owner, his or her heirs and assigns. The owner’s restoration, reconstruction, or maintenance of any item within the area shall constitute the owner’s agreement to protect and hold the city blameless against any and all liability, cost, damage, or expense suffered by the city as a result of or growing out of the restoration, reconstruction, or maintenance thereof. The items, so approved, may be lawfully restored, reconstructed, or maintained.
         (c)   The Board of Adjustment shall not have the power to grant permission for the construction of any structure which would project over a public street (paved roadway) and nothing in this section shall be construed to grant the authority to the Board of Adjustment.
   (F)   Parking waiver.
      (1)   Where the Historic District Commission, in considering an application for a certificate of appropriateness, shall find that the number of off-street parking spaces required by the 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 District, it shall recommend to the Board of Adjustment a waiver, in part or in whole, of the off-street parking requirements.
      (2)   The Board of Adjustment may authorize a lesser number of off-street parking spaces, provided:
         (a)   The Board finds that the lesser number of off-street parking spaces will not create problems due to increased on-street parking; and
         (b)   Will not constitute a threat to the public safety.
   (G)   Historic District Commission recommendations on conditional use applications.  All use applications within the Historic Overlay District shall be reviewed by the Historic District Commission at this next regular meeting after the application has been submitted but in no case longer than 31 days following the submission of the application, in accord with the requirements of this chapter. The Historic District Commission shall forward its comments and recommendations within seven days prior to the public hearing on the conditional use application as set forth in § 153.237 of this chapter. The recommendations shall be submitted to the City Council along with other documents related to the conditional use permit application.
   (H)   Certificate of appropriateness.
      (1)   Required.
         (a)   No exterior portion of any building or other structure (including masonry walls, fences, light fixtures, steps and pavement, or other appurtenant features) nor above-ground utility structure nor any type of advertising sign shall be erected, altered, restored, moved or demolished within the district until after an application for a certificate of appropriateness as to exterior features has been submitted to and approved by the Historic District Commission except as provided for in division (P) below. For the purpose of this section EXTERIOR FEATURES shall include the architectural style, general design, and general arrangement of the exterior of a building or other structure, including the color, the kind and texture of the building material, landscaping and natural features, the size and scale of the building and the type and style of all windows, doors, light fixtures, signs and other appurtenant fixtures. Provided, however, a certificate of appropriateness shall not be required when the only change in exterior appearance is the painting of existing painted surfaces regardless of the color of paint to be applied.
         (b)   A certificate of appropriateness must be issued by the Commission prior to the issuance of either a zoning or building permit granted for the purposes of constructing, altering, moving or demolishing structures, which certificate may be issued subject to reasonable conditions necessary 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, zoning permit or other permit not issued in conformity with this section shall be invalid.
         (c)   The city and all public utility companies shall be required to obtain a certificate of appropriateness prior to initiating any changes in the character of street paving, sidewalks, trees, utility installations, lighting, walls, fences, structures and buildings on property, easements, or streets owned or franchised by the city or public utility companies.
      (2)   Required procedures.
         (a)   Application submitted to Administrator.  An application for a certificate of appropriateness shall be obtained from and, when completed, filed with the Administrator. An application for a certificate of appropriateness shall be considered by the Historic District Commission at its next regular meeting, but in no case longer than 31 days following the submission of the application, provided it has been filed, complete in form and content, at least seven calendar days before the regularly scheduled meeting of the Commission; otherwise, consideration shall be deferred until the following meeting.
         (b)   Contents of application.  The Commission shall, by uniform rule in its Rules of Procedure, require information as is reasonably necessary to determine the nature of the application. An application for a certificate of appropriateness shall not be deemed complete until all required information has been submitted. Nothing shall prevent the applicant from filing with the application additional relevant information bearing on the application.
         (c)   Notification of Historic District Commission.  Upon receipt of an application, the Administrator shall notify the Historic District Commission at least four calendar days before its regularly scheduled or specially called meeting.
         (d)   Notification of affected property owners.  Prior to issuance or denial of a certificate of appropriateness, the Commission shall take the action as may reasonably be necessary to inform the owners of any property likely to be materially affected by the application, and shall give the applicant and the owners an opportunity to be heard.
         (e)   Public hearing.  In cases where the Commission deems it necessary, it may hold a public hearing concerning the application.
         (f)   Commission action on application.  The Commission shall take action on the application and in doing so shall apply the review criteria, contained in division (I) below of this section. The Commission’s action on the application shall be approval, approval with modifications, or disapproval. Prior to final action on an application, the Commission, using the guidelines in division (I) below, shall make findings of fact indicating the extent to which the application is or is not congruous with the historic aspects of the District. No member or alternate member shall vote on any matter concerning an application for a certificate of appropriateness (COA) unless that member or alternate shall have been present during the hearing and deliberations concerning the application.
         (g)   Reasons for Commission’s actions to appear in minutes.  The Commission shall cause to be entered into the minutes of its meeting the reasons for its actions, whether it be approval, approval with modifications or denial.
         (h)   Time limits.  If the Commission fails to take final action upon any application within 60 days after the completed application is submitted to the Administrator, the application shall be deemed to be approved. The 60-day period may be extended through mutual written agreement between the Commission and the applicant. The extension may be no longer than 30 days and may be renewed.
         (i)   Submission of new application.  If the Commission determines that a certificate of appropriateness should not be issued, a new application affecting the same property may be submitted only if substantial change is made in plans for the proposed construction, reconstruction, alteration, restoration or moving; unless a period of one year has elapsed since the denial and in that case the same application may be resubmitted.
   (I)   Review criteria.
      (1)   Intent.
         (a)   It is the intention of these regulations to ensure, insofar as possible, that buildings or structures in the Historic Overlay District shall be in harmony with other buildings or structures located therein. However, it is not the intention of these regulations to require the reconstruction or restoration of individual or original buildings or prohibit the demolition or removal of same or to impose architectural styles from particular historic periods. In considering new construction, the Commission may encourage contemporary design that is harmonious with the character of the District.
         (b)   In granting a certificate of appropriateness, the Commission shall take into account the historic or architectural significance of the structure under consideration and the exterior form and appearance of any proposed additions or modifications to that structure as well as the effect of the change or additions upon other structures in the vicinity.
      (2)   Exterior form and appearance.  The Commission in reviewing applications for a certificate of appropriateness shall consider the following criteria, when relevant. These criteria shall serve as guidelines to determine whether the construction or alteration as proposed in the application for certificate of appropriateness is compatible to those properties within the HO-Historic Overlay District:
         (a)   Lot coverage, defined as the percentage of lot area covered by primary structures;
         (b)   Setback, defined in § 153.031 of this chapter;
         (c)   Building or structure height, the maximum height of all new buildings permitted in the Historic Overlay District shall be 35 feet unless the Historic District Commission authorizes a height above 35 feet. However, the authorized height shall not exceed 10% of the average height of existing adjacent buildings. Chimneys, steeples, spires, cupolas and the like, not intended for human occupancy, shall be reviewed on an individual basis and shall be subject to the requirements stipulated by the Historic District Commission certificate of appropriateness for that particular project;
         (d)   Spacing of buildings, defined as the distance between adjacent buildings, i.e., the recurrent relationship of building masses to the spaces between them;
         (e)   Exterior building materials, the predominant material shall be brick, stone, stucco, wood siding or the other material that shall be compatible to those properties within the Historic Overlay District;
         (f)   Proportion, shape, positioning, location, pattern and sizes of any elements of windows and other openings;
         (g)   Surface textures, the predominant texture may be smooth (stucco) or wrought (brick) or horizontal wood siding, or other texture as shall be compatible to those properties within the Historic Overlay District;
         (h)   Roof, shapes, forms and materials;
         (i)   Use of local or regional architectural traditions;
         (j)   General form and proportions of buildings and structures, and relationship of any additions to the main structure;
         (k)   Expression of architectural detailing, such as lintels, cornices, brick bond pattern, and foundation materials;
         (l)   Orientation of the building to the street;
         (m)   Scale, determined by the size of the units of construction and architectural details in relation to the size of man and also by the relationship of buildings and structures;
         (n)   Ratio of height to width of the total building façade;
         (o)   Effect of trees and other landscape elements;
         (p)   Appurtenant fixtures and other features such as lighting;
         (q)   Structural condition and soundness;
         (r)   Walls:  physical ingredients, such as brick, stone or wood walls, wrought iron fences, evergreen landscape masses, building façades, or combination of these;
         (s)   Color:  the predominant color may be that of a natural material or a painted one and shall be compatible to those properties within the Historic Overlay District, as used in this section “compatibility” shall also include original colors of structure, colors which the structure had at any time during which the style(s) of the structure were a prominent style for new construction, or any color schemes generally representative of the original or modified architectural style(s) of the structure and the neighborhood as determined by historical research;
         (t)   Ground covers, plants and other organic materials and paving, paving block and bricks, and other the materials; and
         (u)   Maintenance of pedestrian scale and orientation as well as provision for safe pedestrian movement.
      (3)   Interior arrangement not considered.  The Historic District Commission shall not consider interior arrangement.
   (J)   Certain changes not prohibited.
      (1)   Nothing in this section of this chapter 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, reconstruction, alteration, restoration, or demolition of any feature which the Building Inspector or similar official shall certify in writing to the Commission is required by the public safety because of an unsafe or dangerous condition.
      (2)   Nothing in this section of this chapter shall be construed to prevent a property that is not prohibited by other law.
      (3)   Nothing in this section of this chapter shall be construed to prevent:
         (a)   The maintenance; or
         (b)   In the event of an emergency, the immediate restoration of any existing ground utility structure without approval of the Historic District Commission.
   (K)   Delay in demolition of buildings within Historic District.  An application for a certificate of appropriateness authorizing the demolition of a building, structure or site within the Historic Overlay District may not be denied. However, the effective date of a certificate may be delayed for a period of up to 180 days from the date of approval. The maximum period of delay authorized by this section shall be reduced by the Commission where it finds that the owner would suffer extreme hardship or be permanently deprived of all beneficial use of or return from the property by virtue of the delay. During the period the Historic District Commission shall negotiate with the owner and with any other parties in an effort to find a means of preserving the building or site. If the Historic District Commission finds that a building or site has no particular significance or value toward maintaining the character of the district, it shall waive all or part of the period and authorize earlier demolition or removal.
   (L)   Review of application by Commission.  As part of its review procedure, the Commission may view the premises and may seek the advice of the State of North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources or other expert advice as it may deem necessary under the circumstances.
   (M)   Appeal of decision.
      (1)   An appeal may be taken to the Board of Adjustment from the Commission’s action in granting or denying any certificate, which appeals:
         (a)   May be taken by an aggrieved party;
         (b)   Shall be taken within times prescribed by the Historic District Commission by general rule; and
         (c)   Shall be in the nature of certiorari.
      (2)   Any appeal from the Board of Adjustment’s decision in any case shall be made in accordance with § 153.281(B) of this chapter.
   (N)   Compliance.
      (1)   Compliance with the terms of the certificate of appropriateness shall be enforced by the Administrator. Failure to comply with a certificate of appropriateness shall be a violation of the zoning regulations. The discontinuance of work or the lack of progress toward achieving compliance with a certificate of appropriateness for a period of six months shall be deemed as a failure to comply with a certificate of appropriateness. The certificate of appropriateness shall be effective for 12 months from the date of issuance by the Zoning Officer. If all necessary work or progress has not been completed within 60 days of the end of the certificate’s time limit, the applicant may apply for an extension from the Historic District Commission. The application must be made 30 days prior to the end of the certificate’s time limit.
      (2)   Nothing contained in this chapter shall prohibit, impair, or limit in any way the power of the city to prevent the construction, reconstruction, alteration, restoration, or removal of buildings, structures, appurtenant fixtures, or outdoor signs in the Historic District in violation of the provisions of this chapter. The enforcement of any remedy provided herein shall not prevent the enforcement of any other remedy or remedies provided herein or in other ordinances or laws.
   (O)   Unsafe or dangerous conditions.  The construction, reconstruction, alteration, restoration, moving or demolition of any exterior architectural features, which the Building Inspector or similar official shall certify is required by the public safety because of an unsafe or dangerous condition, shall not be prevented by the requirements pertaining to the Historic Overlay District.
   (P)   Review and approval of minor works.
      (1)   The Administrator shall have the authority to issue a certificate of appropriateness if an application or inquiry falls under one of the following categories of minor works:
         (a)   Storm windows (providing color matches window trim);
         (b)   Normal size television and radio antennas (citizen band and ham operators shall require a certificate of appropriateness issued by the Historic District Commission);
         (c)   Roof and basement ventilators; and
         (d)   Window air conditioning units, outdoor portions of single or two-family residential central air conditioning or heating units.
      (2)   If the Administrator does not issue a certificate of appropriateness, he or she shall advise the applicant to make a formal application to the Historic District Commission. The Administrator is not required to issue any certificate of appropriateness and may at his or her discretion refer any matter to the Historic District Commission. The Historic District Commission may deny no application for a certificate of appropriateness without formal action.
(Prior UDO, § 7.23)