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Special Building Requirements for Historic Neighborhoods

Nashville has an incredible, rich history that is full of interesting stories explaining how each individual corner of the city came to be. It is comprised of a large number of neighborhoods, each distinctly unique with flavorful, eclectic communities that together make up the what we know and love as Music City.

Because of its deep historical roots, a large majority of Nashville neighborhoods have been placed in Historical Zones which have their own set of rules and regulations–especially for those who own homes in those districts.  To see if your neighborhood is on the list, see here.

In Nashville, the Metropolitan Historical Commission is a municipal historic preservation agency working to document history, save and reuse buildings, and make the public more aware of the necessity and advantages of preservation in Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee.

What’s the difference between a Historic District and a Historic Zone? Historic Preservation Zoning Overlays provide the highest level of review, and in turn provide the greatest level of protection for a site or neighborhood. Historic Landmark Districts have the same level of review as that of Historic Preservation Zoning, however Districts may be limited to one property or a collection of related properties such as a school campus or park. Historic Zones, on the other hand, include entire groups of neighborhoods or an entire area of homes whose special character is hoped to be preserved.

As aforementioned, if your home is in a Historic District or Zone, there are certain regulations you must follow as a homeowner in the case of desired changes to the exterior of your home.

An area that we do a substantial amount of real estate in is the Belmont-Hillsboro Neighborhood, which is included in those neighborhoods protected by Historic Zoning Overlays. For those who own homes in the Belmont-Hillsboro neighborhoods, a permit must be acquired from the Metro Historic Zoning Commision (MHZC)  in order to do any of the following to the home:

  • Demolition
  • New Construction (primary buildings and out buildings, accessory structures, and garages)
  • Additions to existing structures (new rooms, dormers, porches, or anything that increases habitable space or height of a building)
  • Moving any structure in, around, or out of an area
  • Exterior renovation, rehabilitation, restoration

If you aren’t sure if the MHZC needs to review your project, give them a call. They will be able to assist you in any way you need. If you will be needing a permit, they will set up a time time to meet with you at your property and discuss the project with your contractor(s), architect(s) and designer(s).

In order to obtain your permit, the MHZC will need to determine whether or not your project meets all design guidelines. Homeowners must full out an application (accessible here), and turn over complete site plans, elevation drawings, specifications and any other appropriate supporting information. Don’t worry if they are unable to issue you a permit immediately. If there are any changes needed to your project, the MHZC is more than willing to work with you to get your project in compliance with design guidelines.

For a handbook explaining Design Guidelines that also includes a handy map outlining the zoning area, see here.

For more information including contact email address and phone numbers for the MHZC, check out their website here.

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