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(A) Certificate of Appropriateness required.
(1) A Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) is required prior to partial or total demolition(including demolition by neglect); exterior alteration, or addition; new construction; site alteration; hardscaping including walkways, driveways and patios; fences and walls or docks within the district unless otherwise stated within the HDPC's design guidelines. A COA is also required for the moving of any building into, out of, or within the district.
(2) A building permit shall not be issued for work in the historic district without a COA for the same work; any building permit not issued in conformance with this subchapter shall be considered void.
(3) The COA shall be a standardized form signed by the Secretary of the Commission. The COA shall state the specific changes that will result from the proposed work for which the application has been made, and shall state that those changes are approved by the Commission or Secretary in the case of minor work.
(4) The COA shall be valid for a period of two years from the date of approval by the Commission, and thereafter for the time prescribed by § 156.049, Vested Rights, of this chapter.
(a) At any time during the two-year period, or any subsequent vested rights extensions, the applicant may be granted a building permit from the Town Building Official.
(b) Should the COA expire at any time prior to the application for a building permit, such permit shall not be issued until a current COA is provided.
(B) Preliminary request.
(1) Prior to final approval for a COA, applicants may, but are not required to, request a preliminary approval. Preliminary approvals may be appropriate for new construction or complex or large scale projects, or projects involving major work to historic properties.
(2) Preliminary applications do not require the same level of detail as a COA application, and are designed to establish the intent and scope of the proposed project and to review any plans provided. The Commission may provide the applicant with comments regarding the request and any items that need to be addressed prior to a submittal for final COA approval.
(C) Application requirements.
(1) Prior to acceptance of an application for a COA, a pre-application meeting is required with Department of Planning and Development staff.
(2) The application for the COA must be complete with a Property Owner Acknowledgment Form signed by the owner(s) of the property to which it applies.
(3) Complete applications must be filed with the Commission Secretary four calendar weeks prior to the meeting at which it will be heard.
(4) A complete major work application shall consist of at least the following, as applicable:
(a) HDPC COA application form completed on the town's website;
(b) A thorough written description of work proposed; description of all materials to be used, including samples if requested; and description of all exterior changes that will result from proposed work;
(c) Photographs (clear color photographic prints or printed color versions of clear digital images at least 3 inches by 5 inches in size) of existing conditions and of surrounding properties and streetscapes, as appropriate;
(d) An accurate site plan showing existing conditions and the location of proposed additions, demolition, new construction, or hardscaping, if any such work is included in the application; and
(e) Accurate drawings of each affected elevation depicting proposed work with sufficient detail to show the architectural design of the building and the proposed work; and
(f) Completed Submittal Checklist, as may be amended by the Secretary.
(D) Minor work reviewed by staff.
(1) Minor work projects may be reviewed and approved or denied by appropriate staff. A list of work items designated by the Commission as minor work is available from the Commission Secretary. The list may be changed or updated by a majority of the Commission as necessary. An application consisting entirely of minor work may be reviewed by the Commission Secretary, or designee. The Commission Secretary may approve applications that meet the design guidelines. The Commission Secretary shall not review incomplete applications.
(2) The Commission Secretary, or designee, shall review all minor work applications within ten business days of receipt of a complete application.
(3) At each regularly scheduled meeting, the Commission Secretary shall provide a report of all staff level approvals granted within the month.
(E) Notification of COA hearing. At least two weeks prior to hearing an application for a COA, the Secretary or designee shall advertise the hearing by posting a sign(s) at the property that is the subject of the hearing. Review of minor work applications by the Commission Secretary shall not require such advertisement.
(F) Approval or denial.
(1) Review of COA application.
(a) Approval or denial of COA applications shall be based upon the specific criteria stated in the ordinance provisions or design review guidelines, as applicable.
(b) The Commission, or Secretary in the case of minor work, shall not consider:
1. The use of the building;
2. The interior of the building;
3. Vegetative landscaping.
(c) The Commission, or Secretary in the case of minor work, shall not make requirements except to prevent developments that are not in harmony with the prevailing character of the streetscape or the district in general, or are obviously incongruous with the character, integrity or style of a building or site.
(d) The Commission shall take final action upon a complete and fully documented application for a COA within a reasonable amount of time.
(2) Approval of COA application. The Commission shall provide the COA and draft minutes of the hearing of the application to the applicant within ten days of approval of plans.
(3) Denial of COA application.
(a) A COA application shall be denied if the demolition or partial demolition; alterations and/or additions to existing structures; erection of new structures; alteration of site; or other factor listed within are considered in violation of specific criteria stated in the design review guidelines for the historic district.
(b) Reasons for denial of an applica-tion shall be clearly listed in the motion to deny the COA. The motion shall cite the exact section(s) that are pertinent violations of the ordinance or design review guidelines. In the case of staff denial, staff shall provide a written explanation citing the exact section(s) that are considered in violation of specific criteria stated in the ordinance or design review guidelines for the historic district.
(c) The Secretary shall mail the draft minutes of the hearing of the application to the applicant within 20 business days of the denial of the application.
(d) If a COA application is denied, a new application affecting the same property may be submitted only if substantial change is made in the plans for the proposed work.
(G) Appeal of Commission's decision. Any aggrieved party may appeal a decision of the Commission to the Courts of South Carolina pursuant to the S.C. Code §§ 6-29-900 et seq.
(H) Appeal of administrative decision.
(1) Any person aggrieved (or any officer, department, board or bureau of the local government) may appeal to the HDPC from actions of the Zoning Administrator, or other administrative official, in matters within the jurisdiction of the Board pursuant to the S.C. Code §§ 6-29-880 and 6-29-890.
(2) The appeal must be filed within 30 days after the affected party receives actual notice of the decision, by filing with the officer from whom the appeal is taken and with the Commission notice of appeal specifying the grounds of the appeal.
(I) Substantial economic hardship exemption.
(1) A property owner may apply for an exemption based on the substantial hardship of maintaining the property according to the design guidelines. Substantial hardship shall be considered by the Commission where one or more of the following unusual and compelling circumstances exist:
(a) The property cannot reasonably be maintained in the manner dictated by the design guidelines due to economic constraints;
(b) There are no other reasonable means of saving the property from deterioration or collapse; or
(c) The property is owned by a nonprofit organization and it is not feasible, financially or physically, to achieve the charitable purposes of the organization while maintaining the property appropriately.
(2) If the property owner wishes to make a claim of substantial economic hardship (as defined herein) owing to the effects of this subchapter, the property owner must submit evidence describing the circumstances of hardship; including but not be limited to:
(a) Nature of ownership (individual, business, or nonprofit) or legal possession, custody, and control;
(b) Financial resources of the owner and/or parties in interest;
(c) Cost of repairs;
(d) Assessed value of the land and improvements;
(e) Real estate taxes for the past two years;
(f) Amount paid for the property, date of purchase, and party from whom purchased, including a description of the relationship between the owner and the person from whom the property was purchased, or other means of acquisition of title, such as by gift or inheritance;
(g) Annual debt service, if any, for previous two years;
(h) Any listing of the property for sale or rent, price asked, and offers received, if any;
(i) Annual gross income from the property for the previous two years (if the property is income-producing);
(j) Itemized operating and maintenance expenses for the previous two years, including proof that adequate and competent management procedures were followed (if the property is income-producing); and
(k) Annual cash flow, if any, for the previous two years (if the property is income-producing).
(3) In the event of a finding of substantial economic hardship in meeting the guidelines, the finding shall be accompanied by a recommended plan to relieve the economic hardship. This plan may include loans or grants from public, private, or nonprofit sources, acquisition by purchase or eminent domain, or relaxation of the provisions of this subchapter sufficient to mitigate substantial economic hardship.
(J) Requirements of municipal and publicly regulated utilities. The town and all publicly regulated utility companies shall be required to go before the Commission in accordance with §§ 156.313, 156.430 through 156.433, and the bylaws, prior to initiating any changes in the character of street paving, sidewalks, trees, utility installations (excluding traffic-control devices), lighting, walls, fences, structures and buildings on property, easements or widening or constricting of streets owned or franchised by the town or public utility companies. Nothing in this chapter shall prevent municipal or publicly regulated utilities from the orderly maintenance of their systems or the services they provide.
(K) Exceptions following a disaster or in a state of emergency.
(1) In the event of a natural disaster or when state of emergency is declared, the Commission or Commission staff may authorize temporary disaster-related repairs in order to weatherproof or stabilize a damaged building/structure (waiver shall not relieve the applicant/property owner of making permanent repairs that meet the established guidelines).
(2) The immediate restoration or maintenance of any existing above-ground utility structure is hereby authorized as long as repair results in no exterior change from the appearance before the disaster or state of emergency.
(3) The Commission may waive all application deadline and notification requirements pertaining to disaster-related repairs.
(Ord. 06052, passed 6-21-06; Am. Ord. 09041, passed 7-14-09; Am. Ord. 10080, passed 1-11-11; Am. Ord. 14047, passed 8-12-14; Am. Ord. 19062, passed 11-13- 19)