Historical Architectural Review Board (HARB)

Meetings

  • 7 p.m.
  • 4th Wednesday of every month
  • Norristown Municipal Hall
    Council Chambers
    235 E Airy Street
    Norristown, PA 19401

Responsibilities

Norristown has two local historic districts that cover a large portion of Norristown. The HARBs job is to ensure that any changes to the built environment that can be seen from a public street are historically appropriate and consistent with the other buildings in the surrounding neighborhood of the Norristown historic districts. For example, a modern glass and steel building would not be appropriate in the context of a Victorian neighborhood. Nor would covering a brick building in stucco or siding be appropriate.

Overview

The Historical Architectural Review Board (HARB) is a public advisory body created by state and local laws. The HARB helps to protect the architectural and cultural heritage within the Norristown Local Historic District by considering the effects of proposed exterior changes to building and structures within the district and commenting on their appropriateness.

The HARB reviews all proposed exterior changes to buildings and structures that are visible from a public street, sidewalk, or way within the district. The HARB reviews the proposal to determine whether it is appropriate to the individual property and the district as a whole in regard to architectural style, general design, arrangement, location, and materials. The HARB does not review any interior changes unless they affect the exterior appearance of the building.

Review Process

The HARB will help guide you to ensure that the improvements you want to make to the exterior of your building fit in with the historic character of the district.

Important Consideration

If your property is located in one of these two districts, your project will have to go before the Norristown Historical and Architectural Review Board (HARB) for review prior to having a construction permit issued for exterior work only. If your project is limited to the interior of your building and does not affect the exterior of the building, a review by the HARB is not required.

Construction Permit

When you apply for a construction permit, staff at the Norristown Code Enforcement Department will review your project to determine whether a HARB review is required. It is a good idea to contact the department just as you are beginning to plan your project to ask if a HARB review will be needed. This way you can plan your project accordingly.

HARB Application

If a HARB review is necessary, staff will assist you in completing the application and let you know what additional materials will be required to be submitted along with the application. You will be scheduled to appear before the HARB at their next available monthly meeting. Applications received less than 10 days prior to the next meeting will be scheduled for the following month.

HARB Review

At the HARB meeting you will be provided time to present your project to the board. The meetings are usually informal. The board members may have questions and suggestions for you to consider. If the board approves your project, they will make a recommendation to the Norristown Municipal Council that you be issued a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) at the next Council meeting. Once the Council approves the COA, you can move forward with the construction permit process.

Certificate of Appropriateness

To have your Certificate of Appropriateness application reviewed by HARB, it must be submitted with the appropriate materials to the Code Enforcement Department by 4:30 P.M. ten calendar days prior to the HARB meeting at which the application is to be reviewed. HARB meetings typically occur the fourth Wednesday of each month. Please call 610-270-0441 to confirm the next meeting date.

Other Permits

Please note the HARB review is necessary, but not sufficient for the granting of a building permit. Each project may also be subject to review for compliance with zoning, building, and safety codes. The applicant must obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness as well as all necessary permits prior to proceeding with any work.