Historic Preservation


Historic preservation preserves and fosters the use and reuse of historic buildings which add significantly to a community's distinctiveness, personality, and diversity. Historic preservation encourages pride and reinvestment in neighborhoods, thus stabilizing and enhancing values. The Historic Preservation Commission is made up of Rocky Mount residents appointed by City Council to serve as the lead authority with regards to: compiling an inventory of significant properties; designating landmarks and historic districts; promoting preservation efforts; and reviewing Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) proposals for alterations, demolitions, or new construction within local historic districts, or of designated local landmarks.

The Commission meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 6:00 pm, in the committee room on the third floor, at the Frederick E. Turnage Municipal Building (City Hall).

Within Rocky Mount, there are a total of seven historic districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places, containing approximately 1,200 properties:

Owners of property within the city's local historic overlay districts will find the preservation guidelines are user friendly and important to reference in the planning stages of a project. The Department of Development Services provides professional staff support to assist property owners.


What does local historic district designation mean to me as a property owner?

Historic districts are not designed to prevent changes. Rather, they assist in shaping changes that enhance the historic assets that make a district unique. The City zoning code protects a local historic district's assets by establishing a special design review process which assures the issuance of a Certificate of Appropriateness. This process ensures that proposed work is compatible with the nature of the historic property and contributes to the character of the historic district as a whole.

Plans for exterior alterations, new construction, demolitions, or moving of buildings are reviewed before any work may begin and the permit is issued. This includes plans for additions to existing buildings, removal or enclosure of porches, erection of signs, and the addition of retaining walls, decks and fences. Consult the HPC Design Guidelines for more information.

Local historic district designation is an overlay zoning district. It affects only the exterior appearance of buildings and landscape features. The use of the building is not addressed by this overlay but is subject to the citywide zoning ordinance.

How do I begin the process of applying for a Certificate of Appropriateness?

Click here to download an application form. Photographs and drawings depicting the proposed changes will be required for the review process. Applications are forwarded to the Historic Preservation Commission for review.

Certain minor changes that do not substantially affect properties can be approved by staff through the Minor Works process. This includes such things as replacement of in-kind roof coverings, removal of siding, and replacement of missing architectural elements when there is no change in design or materials from the original. If you have any questions, the City's Department of Development Services can help you.

Am I required to restore my property or to get permission for general maintenance or interior work?

The local historic district designation does not require you to make any alterations or changes to your property. General maintenance work that does not change the exterior appearance is not reviewed, nor are interior alterations.

Are there benefits to me?

Yes. Owning property in a local historic district ensures that your neighborhood will be protected from unmanaged change. Because the review process requires public comment, neighboring property owners are given more involvement with the development and alterations in their area than if no district were in place.

What kind of technical help can I get in preserving my property?

The Department of Development Services provides professional staff support for the Historic Preservation Commission. Staff can make site consultations at your property and provide technical assistance in solving problems typically encountered by historic property owners, such as, persistently peeling paint and exterior cleaning methods. Also, the Commission maintains a library of preservation resource materials in the Department of Development Services which you may consult or copy.

If my neighborhood is proposed for local historic district designation, do I have any say in whether it is established?

Yes. Public comment is an important part of the designation process. By law, property owners in a proposed local historic district must be notified of the proposal so they may testify for or against it during the public hearings. Neighborhood meetings are held to discuss the impact of the proposed designation. A contact person will be identified in each neighborhood to assist with any questions.

Will the value of my property increase if it becomes part of a local district? How about my taxes?

Neighborhood change is affected by forces that occur independently of historic district designation. Economic pressures of development and shifting population trends may affect property values. Many local historic districts have experienced improvement in the appearance of the area and an increase in home ownership. This is not guaranteed. However, studies show absolutely no evidence of decline in property values from historic district designation. Indeed, designation consistently encourages reinvestment and may result in higher property values.

At this time, there is no special tax assessment for local historic districts; therefore, your taxes should not increase more than others in the community.

Why designate districts?

Districts can be designated for a variety of reasons relating to the social, architectural, historical, and/or cultural significance of the area. Local historic district designation is designed to protect and enhance the existing character of a community, not to change it.

For more information, contact the City of Rocky Mount Department of Development Services at 252-972-1108 or email Stephanie.Goodrich@rockymountnc.gov.