A Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) is required for all new construction and exterior alterations to structures in a regulated historic district. The application must be completed to include all specifications for proposed exterior work, in addition to: paint color samples, material samples, and detailed drawings illustrating dimensions for new construction, alterations, and signs. 

Certificate of Appropriateness applications must be submitted to the Preservation Officer 10 business days before the next regularly scheduled meeting, and a COA is required before building permits can be obtained. 

The Preservation Officer is authorized to approve some minor building improvements and painting of exterior surfaces.  Most proposed improvements, however, will require review by the HARB as per the Historic District Ordinance.

Applications are available online (Adobe PDF) or at the City’s Historic Preservation Office:

City Hall
Room 3-03
815 Washington Street
Reading, PA 19601


COA Application Process

1 - An application for a COA is submitted for review by the Preservation Officer.

2 - The Preservation Officer may approve the COA application as authorized or shall forward the application to the HARB for review at a regularly scheduled monthly meeting.  It is strongly recommended that the applicant or a representative attend the meeting.

3 - If Approved by the HARB (with or without conditions), a Certificate of Appropriateness is issued and then Building Permits can be obtained.  A COA will be sent to you in approximately 2 weeks.

4 - If a COA is denied by the HARB, the applicant may appeal the decision of the HARB to City Council.

-- If City Council approves (with or without conditions), a Certificate of Appropriateness is issued and then Building Permits can be obtained.

If City Council denies your appeal, a Certificate of Appropriateness is NOT issued and then Building Permits can NOT be obtained.  Revisions to the design and resubmittal of a new application would be necessary for the project to be reviewed by HARB.