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Design Review

What is Design Review?
Design review involves a detailed and technical review for aspects of a plan that alter the exterior of any building façade.
 
When is a Design Review required?
All development proposals for additions to historic structures, new construction, the alteration or painting of the exterior of any building and/or the addition of lighting, signs, awnings, equipment or other structures which substantially alter the exterior the exterior façade of a building within the City of Birmingham must be reviewed and approved by the Birmingham Historic District Commission or Design Review Board. The design review is necessary so the Historic District Commission or Design Review Board (HDC or DRB) may determine if the changes are appropriate to the building and compatible with the surrounding community. Examples of design changes that may require review by the Historic District Commission or Design Review Board include:
  • Alterations to the exterior building façade
  • Addition of signage
  • Addition of awnings
  • Addition of lighting
  • Any alterations made to a designated historic landmark or historic district resource
  • Changes to the location and / or screening of mechanical equipment (both rooftop and ground-mounted)

This list is not meant to be exhaustive. Some of the above changes may be suitable for administrative approval. See administrative approvals for further information.

Why is Design Review needed?
Section 7.09 of the Birmingham Zoning Ordinance states that all additions to historic structures, new construction and alterations to the exterior of any building must be reviewed by the Historic District Commission or the Design Review Board.

Design Review Process

  1. Make an appointment with a city planner: A conceptual plan must be presented to a city planner prior to acceptance of an application for Design Review. This meeting is intended for information sharing and general guidance.
  2. Application for Design Review filed: An application is deemed complete upon submission and acceptance of the completed application form and all required documentation. Once an application is deemed complete, a petitioner will be scheduled for the next available slot on the Historic District Commission or Design Review Board's roster, which will be at least 3 weeks after the submission of the application package.
  3. Department Review: Submitted plans are sent to appropriate departments for review. Comments are returned to the Planning Division prior to final review by Planning Division personnel
  4. Notices of Public Hearing: Notices are sent by the Planning Division to all property owners within 300' of the subject property at least 15 days prior to the Historic District Commission and/or Design Review Board meeting at which the application will be considered.
  5. Review Report: The Planning Division reviews the submitted pans and prepares a report to the Historic District Commission or Design Review Board. A copy of this report is sent to the petitioner 3 days prior to the meeting.
  6. Hearing at the Historic District Commission and/or Design Review Board: Historic District Commission or Design Review meets to consider the application for Historic Design review. Petitioner appears before the Historic District Commission or Design Review Board to answer any questions.
  7. Plan Revision (if necessary): Petitioner revises plans as required by the Historic District Commission or Design Review Board and submits revised plans to the Planning Division at least 2 weeks prior to the Historic District Commission or Design Review Board meeting at which the revised application will be considered.

Appeals
An applicant that wishes to appeal a decision of the Birmingham Historic District Commission or Design Review Board has the right of appeal to the Board of Zoning Appeals. An appeal must be made to the Board of Zoning Appeals.