County Historic Districts Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
- What are the standards for defining a historic district in Baltimore County?
- Who decides whether an area qualifies as "historic"?
- How is a Baltimore County Historic District established?
- What authority does the Commission have over development or use of properties inside a County Historic District?
- Do I still need a historic permit even if I don't need a building permit?
- What authority does the Commission have over properties adjoining or near a County Historic District?
- Are there any financial advantages to being in a County Historic District?
- Which Historic Districts have been enacted by the County Council?
Baltimore County Law (Section 32-7-101 in the County Code, 2003) defines "County Historic District", as an area in the County designated by the County Council in which there are located structures that have historical, cultural, educational, or architectural value, the preservation of which is deemed to be for the educational, cultural, economic, and general welfare of the inhabitants of the county.
Initially, the matter is considered by the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) in reviewing a Petition for a district. Ultimately, the vote is by the County Council.
The procedure for officially enacting a district has four main steps. Full details are specified in Section 32-7-201 of the County Code. In summary, the steps are:
- Proponents of a district prepare a petition signed by the owners of at least 75 percent of the property (in land area) included in the proposed district.
- The petition is submitted to the LPC, which after study and a public hearing, may designate the area as a proposed historic district and determine its boundaries.
- After the Commission has designated the area, it sends written notice of the designation to the owner of each property in the proposed district. The Commission also submits the proposal to the County Executive for review. The Executive has up to 60 days to review the matter.
- Ultimately, the proposal is scheduled for a public hearing by the County Council. The Commission again sends written notice, informing the property owners at least 45 days before the hearing. The Council has up to 90 days after the hearing to approve or reject the proposed district or any portion of it.
The law specifies, in Section 32-7-403, that any excavation, construction, alteration, reconstruction, moving, demolition, removal, or erection of any building, fence, wall or other new structure of any kind, requires a historic permit from the County. This includes such things as the installation of new siding, replacement windows and trim. Subsequent sections in the law list the procedure for review and approval of the historic permit application by the LPC before the County may issue building or other permits. The LPC' s decisions are guided by the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards. Although the LPC has authority over the exterior appearance and design of a project, the normal County zoning, environmental, building, etc. laws continue to authorize and regulate the other aspects of developing and using a property.
Yes. The requirements to obtain a historic permit apply to any of the actions described in the preceding answer, whether or not any building, grading, demolition or other permit from the County is required.
The LPC has no regulatory authority outside the boundaries of the historic districts enacted by the County Council except for structures that have been placed individually on the Baltimore County Landmarks List. The Commission may, however, make advisory comments on the treatment of historic properties anywhere in the County.
Eligible properties – those deemed by the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) to be "contributing" to the district’s historic significance – may receive a state income tax credit of 20 percent of the eligible expenditures for rehabilitation of historic structures. The State (MHT) and the County (LPC) can, at the owner’s request, coordinate on the approval of the proposed work to avoid conflicting requirements. Complete information about the state tax credit program is available at MHT’s web site.
Under certain circumstances, substantial rehabilitation expenditures may also qualify the property for the County Historic Tax Credit.
The enacted County Historic Districts are Glyndon, Monkton, Corbett, Lutherville, Sudbrook Park (3 separate, adjoining Districts), Rippling Run, Franklinville, Relay, and Fieldstone. Single Property County Historic Districts that have also been enacted are Ahearn-Braid House, English Consul House, Overlea House, Rest-Melby House, The Ridge Mansion, and the Wicks House. Learn more about existing County historic districts.