The City of Boise’s Residential Historic Districts – Are Approvals Required for Every Home Modification?
The City of Boise has some wonderful historic neighborhoods such as the Warm Springs Avenue Historic District, East End Historic District, Harrison Boulevard Historic District, North End Historic District, and the Hays Street Historic District. I am often asked if a property owner within one these historic districts can make changes to his or her home without obtaining approval from Boise’s Historic Preservation Commission.
Well, the short answer is “maybe” but it depends on the scope of your renovations.
Some structural and landscaping modifications require no approval, some require City staff approval, and others require Historic Preservation Commission approval. Fortunately, the City has done an excellent job of providing the community with Design Guidelines for Residential Historic Districts that will help you in the decision making progress. In fact, the City has developed a handy Decision Matrix for a Certificate of Appropriateness to let you know at glance whether a proposed action might require approval from the City. As a rule of thumb, you can always contact the City of Boise Planning & Development Services with your questions.
My suggestion is to first consult the Decision Matrix and then review the Design Guidelines. The Design Guidelines offer great examples of what is “appropriate” and “not appropriate” for your particular project. They cover everything from garage additions to vegetable gardens and a little bit in-between. Really a great read if you are interested in historic preservation at any level.
My final suggestion is to involve a design professional early on in the process. Ideally, this would be an architect or historic consultant that understands the challenges associated with historic renovations and can guide you through the process... before you spend a lot of time and money having plans drawn that will never be approved.