Historic Designation Process
- The process begins upon a request from a property owner or a nomination for historic designation from another party. The nomination could come from the Mayor and Council, the Planning Commission, or the Historic Designation Committee (HDC) itself as well as from the community.
- After staff analyzes the property for potential eligibility and makes a recommendation, the HDC holds a public hearing to review the history and architectural significance of the site and determine if it meets the adopted City of Rockville Historic District Designation Criteria. The HDC is not permitted to consider other factors in their review for designation. If the HDC finds that a nominated site meets the criteria to be eligible for designation, it makes a recommendation to the Mayor and Council.
- The Mayor and Council must authorize filing for a historic district rezoning on its behalf through the Sectional Map Amendment process. The Mayor and Council may decline to authorize an application, and the Historic Designation Process is ended without the zoning change.
- If authorized, staff prepares the Sectional Map Amendment application and submits it to the city clerk to schedule a public hearing.
- The Planning Commission reviews the Sectional Map Amendment application and makes a recommendation to the Mayor and Council prior to the public hearing. The staff report includes a summary of the planning area and any specific recommendations for the property in the master plan. It is the task of the Planning Commission to alert the Mayor and Council and community of potential planning issues that might arise from the rezoning. Since HD (Historic District) is an overlay zone and does not affect the development standards or permitted uses in the underlying zone, there is generally no impact unless the structures on the site are to be demolished or redevelopment is a possibility. In these cases, the Planning Commission will consider how the rezoning and Historic District Guidelines applied to the property would affect the master plan.
- The Mayor and Council hold a public hearing after the map amendment has been advertised. It may consider all of the concerns and comments brought up by the HDC and Planning Commission as well as public benefit, tourism, educational opportunities and the overall effect on the City of Rockville. If the designation is controversial, the record of the hearing is left open for a period of time to receive additional comments.
- If the proposed historic district designation is found to be appropriate, the Mayor and Council direct staff to prepare an ordinance to grant the map amendment and introduce it. It then goes to a vote for adoption. By adopting the Sectional Map Amendment, the Mayor and Council identify the nominated district as possessing certain architectural, cultural or historical significance to the City and the community and that it should be preserved.
- After adoption, the City's zoning map is amended to show that the district is zoned HD for Historic District in addition to its underlying zone. The HDC is appointed to regulate exterior changes to the districts using the City's adopted design guidelines.