160D-947. Certificate of appropriateness required.

(a) Certificate Required. - After the designation of a landmark or a historic district, no exterior portion of any building or other structure, including masonry walls, fences, light fixtures, steps and pavement, or other appurtenant features, nor above-ground utility structure nor any type of outdoor advertising sign shall be erected, altered, restored, moved, or demolished on the landmark or within the district until after an application for a certificate of appropriateness as to exterior features has been submitted to and approved by the preservation commission. The local government shall require such a certificate to be issued by the commission prior to the issuance of a building permit granted for the purposes of constructing, altering, moving, or demolishing structures, which certificate may be issued subject to reasonable conditions necessary to carry out the purposes of this Part. A certificate of appropriateness is required whether or not a building or other permit is required.

For purposes of this Part, "exterior features" include the architectural style, general design, and general arrangement of the exterior of a building or other structure, including the kind and texture of the building material, the size and scale of the building, and the type and style of all windows, doors, light fixtures, signs, and other appurtenant fixtures. In the case of outdoor advertising signs, "exterior features" mean the style, material, size, and location of all such signs. Such "exterior features" may, in the discretion of the local governing board, include historic signs, color, and significant landscape, archaeological, and natural features of the area.

Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, the commission has no jurisdiction over interior arrangement. The commission shall take no action under this section except to prevent the construction, reconstruction, alteration, restoration, moving, or demolition of buildings, structures, appurtenant fixtures, outdoor advertising signs, or other significant features in the district that would be incongruous with the special character of the landmark or district. In making decisions on certificates of appropriateness, the commission shall apply the rules and standards adopted pursuant to subsection (c) of this section.

(b) Interior Spaces. - Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this section, jurisdiction of the commission over interior spaces is limited to specific interior features of architectural, artistic, or historical significance in publicly owned landmarks and of privately owned historic landmarks for which consent for interior review has been given by the owner. The consent of an owner for interior review binds future owners and/or successors in if the consent has been filed in the office of the register of deeds of the county in which the property is located and indexed according to the name of the owner of the property in the grantee and grantor indexes. The landmark designation shall specify the interior features to be reviewed and the specific nature of the commission's jurisdiction over the interior.

(c) Rules and Standards. - Prior to any action to enforce a landmark or historic district regulation, the commission shall (i) prepare and adopt rules of procedure and (ii) prepare and adopt principles and standards not inconsistent with this Part to guide the commission in determining congruity with the special character of the landmark or district for new construction, alterations, additions, moving, and demolition. The landmark or historic district regulation may provide, subject to prior adoption by the preservation commission of detailed standards, for staff review and approval as an administrative decision of applications for a certificate of appropriateness for minor work or activity as defined by the regulation; provided, however, that no application for a certificate of appropriateness may be denied without formal action by the preservation commission. Other than these administrative decisions on minor works, decisions on certificates of appropriateness are quasi-judicial and shall follow the procedures of G.S. 160D-406.

(d) Time for Review. - All applications for certificates of appropriateness shall be reviewed and acted upon within a reasonable time, not to exceed 180 days from the date the application for a certificate of appropriateness is filed, as defined by the regulation or the commission's rules of procedure. As part of its review procedure, the commission may view the premises and seek the advice of the Division of Archives and History or such other expert advice as it may deem necessary under the circumstances.

(e) Appeals. -

(1) Appeals of administrative decisions allowed by regulation may be made to the commission.

(2) All decisions of the commission in granting or denying a certificate of appropriateness may, if so provided in the regulation, be appealed to the board of adjustment in the nature of certiorari within times prescribed for appeals of administrative decisions in G.S. 160D-405(d). To the extent applicable, the provisions of G.S. 160D-1402 apply to appeals in the nature of certiorari to the board of adjustment.

(3) Appeals from the board of adjustment may be made pursuant to G.S. 160D-1402.

(4) If the regulation does not provide for an appeal to the board of adjustment, appeals of decisions on certificates of appropriateness may be made to the superior court as provided in G.S. 160D-1402.

(5) Petitions for judicial review shall be taken within times prescribed for appeal of quasi-judicial decisions in G.S. 160D-1405. Appeals in any such case shall be heard by the superior court of the county in which the local government is located.

(f) Public Buildings. - All of the provisions of this Part are hereby made applicable to construction, alteration, moving, and demolition by the State of North Carolina, its political subdivisions, agencies, and instrumentalities, provided, however, they do not apply to interiors of buildings or structures owned by the State of North Carolina. The State and its agencies may appeal to the North Carolina Historical Commission or any successor agency assuming its responsibilities under G.S. 121-12(a) from any decision of a local preservation commission. The North Carolina Historical Commission shall render its decision within 30 days from the date that the notice of appeal by the State is received by it. The current edition of the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings shall be the sole principles and guidelines used in reviewing applications of the State for certificates of appropriateness. The decision of the North Carolina Historical Commission is final and binding upon both the State and the preservation commission. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, ss. 24, 51(a), (b), (d).)