Foxborough Historic District

 

Welcome to the Foxborough  Historic District, administered by a Historic District Commission according to the rules and regulations set forth in Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 40C and by the bylaws of the Town of Foxborough, as approved by Town meeting.

 

Our Historic District was established to preserve the architectural significance and rich character of your neighborhood.  The buildings and structures need your special care and attention to preserve the uniqueness of Baker Street.  The Foxborough Historic District Commission has summarized here the responsibilities of homeowners in the Historic District.

The Commission consists of qualified volunteers appointed by the Selectmen and includes a property owner in the Historic District, an architect, a real estate professional and a representative of the Foxborough Historical Society.  Under a very specific set of regulations, similar for most Historic Districts in our state, the Commission deals with issues of appropriate exterior alterations in the Historic District.

Through public and private cooperation, Historic District procedures allow appropriate architectural changes while protecting neighborhoods from alterations or new construction, which might lower economic and aesthetic values of individual properties.  These rules apply to all buildings in the districts, even those you may not consider “historic” and have been effective in preserving and enhancing those special qualities, which merited your neighborhood’s recognition as a “Historic District” in the first place.

The Commission is required by law to review the architectural appropriateness of most proposed exterior design changes, whether they be minor alterations, new additions or removal of trim or structures.  It is the owner’s responsibility to submit a completed application to the Commission to start the review process prior to commencing any work and prior to the issuance of a building permit (if a building permit is needed).   Certain items are excluded; in which case, the Commission will issue a Certificate of Non-Applicability.

The Details:

As required by law, if you plan to make exterior alterations to a property in a Historic District, you must first obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Commission, even if a building permit is not necessary.  (If a building permit is necessary, the Building Commissioner will direct you to the Historic District Commission for a Certificate.)  To obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness, an application must be submitted to the Commission, a public hearing held, and the Commission must find that the proposed work is appropriate as defined under Historic District law.  In the case that your exterior alteration falls into the above category of non-applicability, the Commission will issue a Certificate of Non-Applicability without the public hearing.   Landscaping with plants, trees or shrubs is not reviewed and does not require any type of certificate.

Applications are easy to complete but must include sufficient information and plans to clearly and accurately indicate to the Commissioners the exact nature of all proposed changes.  The Commission will consider the general design, proportions, detailing, mass, arrangement, texture, and building materials used.  For new construction and additions, the Commission will also consider the appropriateness of the scale, shape and proportions of the design.  After a public hearing the Commissioners will decide on the historic appropriateness of your proposal.  A copy of the Historic District bylaw is on file at the Town Clerk’s office.  The bylaw is the formal document that governs the district; this brochure is meant as a simplified, summary document.

 

Typical items requiring a Certificate of Appropriateness:

Installing new siding, trim or shutters 
New additions or demolitions of any kind 
Removing or altering porches, balconies or other building elements and features 
Replacing or installing outside lighting, doors, windows, stairs, gutters or railings 
Installing skylights and fences 
Enlarging driveways or parking lots

Typical items that are issued a Certificate of Non-Applicability:
Color of paint or color of roofing materials 
Certain small signs and temporary signs 
Certain temporary structures 
Terraces and walks which are at grade 
Storm windows, storm doors, screen windows and screen doors 
Window air conditioners 
Identical construction after a fire, storm or other natural disaster 
Changes that are not visible from a public way

Work done in violation of the above cited laws without a Certificate may subject you to a fine or court action in the same way as a violation of the State’s building code.

 

The Process:

Application

Call the Town Clerk’s office, the Building Commissioner or your local Commissioner for an application.  At your option, you are invited to meet with the Commission informally to discuss proposed designs or for assistance with the application prior to formal submission to the Commission.  Submit your completed application to the Town Clerk with the accompanying materials specified on the application form.  You may submit an application anytime, but the filing date is the date of the next regularly scheduled Commission meeting when the Commission determines your application is acceptable.

The Commission will determine within fourteen (14) days of the filing date if your proposed change falls within their jurisdiction.  They will issue a Certificate of Non-Applicability for those changes that don’t fall under their jurisdiction.  If the Commission determines that the application is subject to review than it shall hold a public hearing.

Public Hearing

The Commission shall hold a public hearing within forty-five (45) days from the filing date of the application.  At least fourteen (14) days before the public hearing, public notice shall be given by posting at Town Hall and in “The Foxboro Reporter”.  A copy of this public notice shall also be mailed to the applicant, to the owners of all adjoining properties in the Historic District and to the Planning Board.

A public hearing on an application for a Certificate need not be held if the Commission determines that the exterior architectural feature involved, or its category, is so insubstantial in its effect on the Historic District that it may be reviewed by the Commission without a public hearing.  If the Commission dispenses with a public hearing on an application for a Certificate, notice of the application shall be given to the owners of all adjoining property in the Historic District and ten (10) days shall elapse after the mailing of the notice before the Commission may act upon the application.

 

Approval

Within sixty (60) days after the filing date of an application, the Commission shall issue a Certificate of Appropriateness or a disapproval.  This time can be extended by the applicant in writing.  In the case of a disapproval of an application, the Commission will state the reasons for the disapproval and may include specific recommendations for changes in the applicant's proposal with respect to the appropriateness of design, arrangement, texture, material and similar features which, if made and filed with the Commission in a subsequent application, would make the application acceptable.  In issuing Certificates, the Commission may impose certain conditions and limitations, and may require architectural or plan modifications consistent with the intent and purpose of the bylaw.

The concurring vote of a majority of the Commission members present shall be required to issue a Certificate.  The Commission shall send a copy of its Certificate or disapproval to the applicant and shall file a copy with the office of the Town Clerk and the Building Commissioner.  The Building Commissioner will be responsible for insuring that the proposed changes are being completed according to the Certificate.

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