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Harb

Historical Architectural Review Board Current Board Members:
Elaine Batcho
Troy C. Hill, AIA, Chair
Christian Laird
Michael Mooney
Richard O’Brien, Building & Zoning Officer
Brian Wallace, Real Estate Broker
William Weir

The function of the HARB is to maintain the unique architectural character of Chalfont. The combination of Victorian, Craftsman, Gothic, and Second Empire edifices that can be seen in a short walk down Main Street are what set Chalfont apart. The buildings tell a story of our history.

The Chalfont Borough Historical Architectural Review Board (HARB) is responsible for reviewing applications for Certificates of Appropriateness (COA’s) under Borough Ordinance No. 344, adopted by Borough Council in September 2004. This ordinance, which replaced Borough Ordinance 294A, adopted in 1996, tightened up the process in response to increased threats to the historic district.  Borough Ordinance No. 345 sets some additional restrictions.

In Chalfont, anyone wishing to make changes to the exterior of their buildings in the Historic District that are visible from the street must pick up a HARB Application from our Zoning Officer at Borough Hall. In addition to the completed application, the owner or representative should provide photos of the building as seen from the street, detailed drawings of the proposed changes, and manufacturers’ brochures, product samples, etc., to help visualize the results for both HARB and the owner.

The HARB staff includes a professional building inspector, an architect, a real estate broker, and four volunteers who are deeply committed to maintaining the integrity of the district. Applicants get the added bonus of free advice that the overwhelming majority of residents have found helpful.

The review process is fairly simple. The applicant appears before the HARB after submitting the required information at least 15 days before the next scheduled meeting. The application is reviewed by the members under the design guidelines specified in Ordinance 344. The effects of proposed changes are noted, questions are answered, recommendations are made, and the HARB votes for or against the application. HARB can take up to 45 days to reach its decision. The board will then forward its recommendation to Council, which will vote on the COA determination at its next meeting. Council will render a decision within five days of its meeting.

A wide array of information on historic preservation is available in the HARB rack in Borough Hall. HARB is also planning to sponsor knowledgeable guest speakers to advise residents about making the best decisions when rehabilitating and/or altering the exterior of their buildings in the historic district.
HARB welcomes your input and invites residents to attend our meetings. We will continue to proudly protect and preserve the historic character of Chalfont while promoting our heritage and sense of community, thereby enhancing the local economy.

HARB FAQ

What is the HARB?

The Chalfont Historical Architectural Review Board (HARB) was established in May 1996 under Ordinance #294A (currently #344) to review application for building permits in the Historic District which require changes to the outside of buildings which can be seen from the public right-of-way (i.e., street). The Board, which currently meets on the fourth Monday of each month at Borough Hall at 7:00 p.m., reviews applications and recommends to Borough Council whether or not to issue a permit called a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) if applicants meet certain criteria listed in the Ordinance. The Chalfont Borough HARB is also a Certified Local Government (CLG) with the state of Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

What is its mission?

The HARB is committed to protecting historic buildings, preserving the distinct architectural heritage of Chalfont and promoting the overall heritage and sense of community of the Borough, thereby enhancing the local economy.

Who is on the HARB?

The HARB is composed of seven members appointed by Council. Ordinance #344 specifies that of the seven, one must be a registered architect, one must be a licensed real estate broker, one the Building Inspector of Chalfont, and the other four are to be residents of Chalfont with a knowledge of, and interest in, the preservation of historic buildings and districts. From these members, the Board must select a Chairperson and Vice Chairperson to administer the HARB.

Who decides what HARB reviews?

The Building Inspector is the “gatekeeper” of this process. He initially receives the building permit application. If the building is located in the Historic District , he will contact the applicant and provide the HARB review form that is required for Board review. The completed form should be received at least one week prior to the next regularly scheduled HARB meeting.

Where is the Historic District?

The district is bounded by Westview Avenue to the north, Sunset Avenue and the West Branch of the Neshaminy Creek on the west, the south side of Route 202 on the south, and the North Branch of the Neshaminy Creek, Park Avenue, Chestnut, Church, North and Hamilton Streets on the east. Historic District Map

What does an applicant need to bring to a HARB meeting?

In addition to the completed HARB Application, the applicant should provide the following information:

  1. Photographs of the property seen from the street
  2. Detailed drawings of the proposed additions or modifications
  3. Manufacturer’s brochures of materials such as windows, doors, shutters, roofing materials, posts/balusters, lighting fixtures, etc. to be used in the project
What is the procedure for HARB review?

The applicant must file an application for a building permit if the proposed project involves erecting, altering, restoring, or demolishing a building in the Historic District; if the alterations can be seen from a public right-of-way (i.e., street), if the changes are other than small repair or maintenance projects, HARB review is required. The applicant must complete a HARB Application and provide the supporting documentation listed above (photos, etc.)

After the review form is completed and all documentation is provided, the application will be scheduled for review at the next HARB meeting. The applicant will be notified of the exact date. It is recommended that the applicant or a representative attend the meeting to give any additional information that may be needed.

At the meeting, the HARB must consider the application based upon the standards and requirements of Ordinance 344. If the Board recommends against the application, it must inform the applicant within five working days of the meeting via registered mail, including changes to the plans which would protect the distinctive character of the Historic District. If the Board decides in favor of the application, it will send a written report to Council specifying its reasoning.

Following receipt of the HARB’s report, Borough Council shall consider the application at its next regularly scheduled meeting. The applicant must be notified of the hearing date, which should be at least ten days after notification. The Council shall consider the same factors considered by HARB, as well as any other relevant factors from Planning, Zoning or other legislative sources.

If Council approves the application, they shall issue a Certificate of Appropriateness authorizing the issuance of the building permit for the specified work once all other building and zoning codes of the Borough are met.

If Council disapproves the application, it will notify the applicant in writing, with copies to the building inspector, HARB, and to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. The disapproval shall indicate what changes are needed to make the application acceptable. The building inspector, upon receipt of Council’s disapproval, shall disapprove the permit application.

Overall, this process can take no longer than 90 days from the date the application is submitted to the Borough, or the COA must be automatically approved.

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