Certificates of Appropriateness (COA)

Local Historic District designation is designed to protect the heritage and character of the community. Through Local Historic District Overlay zoning, the district is protected from unmanaged change by a review process based on established Design Guidelines. Many exterior changes in the Local Historic District require a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) prior to beginning the work, regardless of other required town/county permits. Please reach out to Town Staff if you have questions about whether or not proposed work will require a COA.  

  • Routine Maintenance does not require a COA. 
  • Minor Work COA applications are reviewed and approved by staff.
  • Major Work COA applications are reviewed by the Davidson Historic Preservation Commission in a quasi-judicial evidentiary hearing held the third Wednesday of every month.  

Key Steps in the COA Process

  1. Review the Davidson Historic District Guidelines to ensure the proposed work complies PRIOR to applying for a project.
  2. Applicants are encouraged to consult with staff and review the Minor vs. Major Works List to determine whether a project is classified as "minor work" or "major work.”
  3. Complete a COA Application and pay the required fee. Please contact Town Staff to verify fees. The Town of Davidson Fee Schedule is located on the Finance and Budget webpage. The COA application and fee may be submitted online using the COA Submittal Form
  4. Minor Work applications are approved by Town Staff upon determining that the proposed work meets the Davidson Historic District Design Guidelines, or after working with the applicant to modify the project to meet these guidelines. After approval, staff will issue a COA placard. The applicant must then post this placard in public view while performing the approved work. Any minor work application that staff is unable to approve due to conflict with the Design Guidelines must be converted to a Major Work application to be reviewed by the Davidson Historic Preservation Commission.
  5. Major Work applications are placed on the next available Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) agenda. Major COA applications are due at least 4 week prior to the next regularly scheduled meeting of the HPC. A public notice sign advertising the COA hearing will be posted on the property. Additionally, notice letters will be mailed to the owners of property adjacent to the subject property.
  6. At the COA hearing, the applicant and any other parties who wish to speak do so when the case is called during the evidentiary portion of the quasi-judicial hearing. The HPC may decide to approve, approve with conditions, defer (usually to provide the applicant an opportunity to gather additional information supporting his/her application), or deny the application.
  7. After the COA hearing, the applicant will receive the following: a letter stating the decision that was made and the COA approval placard, if the committee approved the application without conditions. If the approval includes conditions to be completed prior to the issuance of permits, the applicant must act to meet these conditions before the COA approval placard is released. The placard must be posted in public view while the approved work is being performed. 

Submittal Requirements

Required for all projects:

  • COA Application & application fee (Verify amount with Town Staff)
  • Contact information
  • General description
  • Project details
  • Photos of existing conditions 
  • Building perspectives OR photos of completed work similar to the proposed project
  • Building materials/colors 
  • Statement of Compliance

Required for some projects:

  • Major Work requires addressed, stamped envelopes for property owners adjacent to the project site (See Minor vs. Major Works List for descriptions of each type of work)
  • Major Work also requires a sign (Template provided by the Town) to be posted on the project site prior to the COA hearing
  • Master Plan or Conditional Planning Area
  • Environmental Inventory 
  • Site Schematic Design 
  • Building Schematic Design 
  • Landscape Schematic Design

COA applications, fees, and supporting documents may be submitted using the COA Submittal Form


Lindsay Laird, Planner, llaird@townofdavidson.org