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Historic Overlay District

Historic District
“Historic Districts are groupings of buildings and structures noteworthy for their age, architectural integrity, or aesthetic unity. Downtowns, residential neighborhoods, and rural areas that have retained their historic character often receive official historic district designation. Historic district designation is an important tool for preservation-based revitalization, including downtown and neighborhood revival, with federal and state historic preservation tax credits often used to rehabilitate income-producing properties in these districts. There are two distinct types of historic districts: those that meet standards of the National Register of Historic Places, and local districts established by municipal ordinance, which are administered by a local review board. Although these two types of districts often process identical geographic boundaries, there are significant differences in the nature of protection and financial incentives each can offer to a community.” (Emina Sendich 2006, Planning and Urban Design Standards)

City of Reno Historic Overlay District
The City of Reno has made provisions within it municipal code to help historic properties in their adaptive reuse. One of the tools the City uses is the establishment of a HL or Historic Overlay District. According to RMC 18.08.101(f)(1):

The purpose of this district is to preserve buildings or protect districts which have historical, architectural, cultural or landmark value; and to provide for appropriate uses other than those permitted in the underlying zoning district as an aid to the owner’s efforts to preserve the historical, architectural, cultural or landmark value.

Properties zoned Historical Overlay (HL) must be listed in the City, State, or National Registers of Historic Places. Historic places may be designated by the city council as architecturally or historically significant. Prior to designation the city council typically requests the Historical Resources Commission to evaluate the property.

The HL overlay (RMC 18.08.401) will be placed on a property once it has been listed on in the City’s Register. This Listing on the City Register and HL overlay is done at no cost to the owner. All other applications for HL overlay, i.e., properties listed in the State and/or National Registers must go through the Special Use Permit process with applicable fees.

The HL overlay on City Register listings is meant to be an incentive to listing. By listing the property owners need to go through a Certificate of Appropriateness process (RMC 18.18.305) for any changes to the exterior of their building. In exchange for maintaining a building’s historical integrity, the HL overlay provides benefits to the owners including; parking requirements, landscape compliance, uses, lighting, signage, etc.
Also see "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Historic Registers"
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