Design Guidelines

A Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) is required for all exterior alterations, demolitions, new construction, and additions to properties in a regulated historic or conservation district. The application must be completed and include all specifications for proposed exterior work, photographs of existing conditions, product data, dimensioned plan, elevation, and detail drawings, paint color samples, and material samples. Incomplete applications cannot be reviewed until the applicant has submitted all required supporting documentation. Certificate of Appropriateness applications must be submitted to the Preservation Officer no later than 10 business days before the next regularly scheduled meeting (3rd Tues of each month). A COA is required before other permits can be obtained.

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

COA Applications and COA Checklists are available here or at the City’s Historic Preservation Office at City Hall Room ??? 815 Washington Street Reading, PA 19601


Flow Chart of 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 the applicant 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 the application (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 are necessary for the project to be reviewed again by the HARB.


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