What is the Syracuse Landmark Preservation Ordinance?
The Landmark Preservation Ordinance is a historic preservation law originally adopted in 1975 and revised under the new city zoning ordinance (Part 6) to recognize, celebrate, and ensure the protection of Syracuse’s built heritage, including buildings, landscapes, objects, and districts. To date, four Preservation Districts and fifty-five individual Protected Sites have been designated
under the ordinance. Many additional districts and individual sites are eligible for designation.
Who administers the Syracuse Landmark Preservation Ordinance?
The Landmark Preservation Ordinance is administered by the seven-member Syracuse Landmark Preservation Board. These volunteers are appointed by the mayor and have expertise in history, historic preservation, architecture, landscape architecture, and real estate. The Board is responsible for making recommendations to the City Planning Commission and Common Council on designating properties, and for reviewing changes to designated properties.
What is a Preservation District?
A preservation district is a geographically definable area, which possesses a significant concentration, linkage or continuity of sites, buildings, structures or objects united historically by past events or united visually by plan or development. There are two residential preservation district in Syracuse that include the Berkeley Park Preservation District and the Sedgwick-Highland-James Preservation District. There are also two downtown preservation districts: Hanover Square Preservation District and Columbus Circle Preservation District,
What is a Protected Site?
A Protected Site is a building, structure, site, landscape, or object that possesses an association with persons or events of historic significance, is illustrative of the historic growth and development of the community, and/or possesses unique architectural or artistic qualities. There are currently 59 individual Protected Sites including residential, commercial and religious properties as well as historic landscapes/cemeteries. A full list of the city's Protected Site can be found here(PDF, 158KB).
How do I know if my building is in a Preservation District or is a Protected Site?
To determine if your building is a in a Preservation District or is a Protected Site please review the historic properties list(PDF, 319KB) or contact preservation staff at SLPB@syr.gov or call 315-448-8108.
What is a Certificate of Appropriateness?
A Certificate of Appropriateness (or CofA) is a certificate issued by the City of Syracuse Landmark Preservation Board authorizing a material change of appearance (see below) of a building, structure, site, landscape, or object designated as a Protected Site or within a Preservation District. The process for applying for a CofA is detailed here.
What is a Material Change in Appearance?
A material change in appearance is any change that will effect either the architectural or site features of a designated protected site or any building, structure, site, object, built landscape feature within a preservation district, such as:
- Demolition or relocation of buildings or building components, such as a garage, shed,
dormer, or porch.
- Removal, replacement, or alteration of windows, doors, siding, roofing, cornices, shutters,
moldings, porches, etc.
- Changes in paint color.
- Use of cleaning methods that can damage historic masonry or wood.
- Additions or construction of new buildings and pools.
- Permanent landscape changes such as addition or replacement of fences, lights, sidewalks,
driveways, patios, and signs and alteration of site grading.
Note: Most, but not all, work that requires a city building permit will also require a Certificate of Appropriateness. If you are not sure if your project requires a Certificate of Appropriateness, please contact the preservation staff at SLPB@syr.gov or 315-448-8108.
What activities DO NOT require a Certificate of Appropriateness?
Activities that do not require a Certificate of Appropriateness include routine maintenance and repair, including but not limited to:
- minor repair to windows, such as caulking or reglazing, replacement of broken window glass (with the same size and style of glass)
- minor repairs to doors, siding, trim, gutters, steps, fences, and walls as along as the repairs match the existing in materials, scale, style, design, and materials.
- selective masonry repointing and replacement, when matching historic materials in strength, type, unit size, mortar joint thickness and tooling profile, bond pattern, texture, finish and color.
- replacement of roofing material with matching material
- replacement of existing mechanical equipment
- repairs to or repaving of driveways, walkways and patios if using the same or similar materials
- installation of new planting beds, pruning of trees and shrubs
- installation or removal of non-fixed items (that can be removed without heavy equipment) such as bird baths, planters, rain barrels, dog houses, etc.
If you are not sure if your project requires review, please contact the preservation staff at SLPB@syr.gov or 315-448-8108.
What criteria and guidance does the Landmark Preservation Board use to determine whether to grant a Certificate of Appropriateness?
The Landmark Preservation Board reviews Certificate of Appropriateness applications to determine the effect of the proposed work on the historical, cultural, architectural, and/or educational significance and value of an individual Protected Site; or, in the case of a property located within a Preservation District, the effect of the proposed work on the historical, cultural, architectural, and/or educational significance of the property, the district or neighboring properties in the district. If the board determines that the proposed work will have an adverse effect on the property or district, it will deny the application. If it determines that the proposed work will have limited or no adverse effect, then it may approve the application or approve the application with conditions.
In making its determination, the board is guided by the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. In addition, the Landmark Preservation Board may use adopted guidelines specific to individual Protected Sites or Preservation Districts in its decisions as long as these guidelines are consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.