About Local Historic Preservation Commissions

Over 100 local historic preservation commissions are active across North Carolina. Click on a map pin below to see contact information for the commission. Certified Local Government commissions have green pins. 

View North Carolina Historic Preservation Commissions in a larger map. Click here for a static state map (jpeg) showing participating municipal governments in joint commissions with counties. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Tab/Accordion Item

When a local government decides to provide for the preservation of the historical, cultural, or archaeological resources within its jurisdiction, it can pass an ordinance to create a historic preservation commission. Members of a preservation commission are selected by the local governing board from the general public. A majority of the members must demonstrate a special interest in history, architecture, archaeology, or related fields.

A commission's primary powers are (1) recommending to the local governing board properties to be designated as historic districts and landmarks and (2) reviewing applications from owners of designated landmarks and structures in historic districts who plan to make changes to their properties. A commission's first charge is to conduct an inventory of the area's historic resources. Its other powers include conducting a public education program and acquiring historic properties.

North Carolina Historic Preservation Commission Roster. (PDF) With staff contacts, including e-mail links and links to commission websites where available.

Commissions are usually staffed by a member by the city or county planning department. If your county or municipality has a commission, your local planning department will be another source of information.

A Letter to George:  How to Keep the Preservation Commission Out of Court and Avoid Being Sued (PDF), by Robert E. Stipe. Bob Stipe's 1994 paper on understanding the responsibilities of a preservation commission and avoiding pitfalls in the work of a commission. 

NC GS 160D-947(d) allows local preservation commissions to “… seek the advice of the Division of Archives and History or such other expert advice as it may deem necessary under the circumstances,” when reviewing Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) applications. 

Staff shall submit the request for technical guidance on behalf of the commission or at the commission’s request. We recommend before an official request is submitted to the HPO by staff, the commission should officially table a COA application, make a motion and vote to invoke NC GS 160D-947(d) to request technical advice from the HPO. When the commission tables a COA, staff and the commission should share with the applicant or their representative that the HPO is allowed thirty days under the state statutes to review the commission’s request from the date the official request is received by the Local Government Coordinator. 

The North Carolina Administrative Code (07 NCAC 04R .0502) further explains that requests for technical guidance from the commission to the HPO must be submitted in writing and sent by mail or email to the HPO’s Local Government Coordinator: “Comments in response to the request will be conveyed in writing to the commission requesting the review.” The state statutes allow HPO staff thirty days to review the COA application and offer comment or technical guidance. 

Written guidance from HPO staff will be conveyed via email to commission staff. It is the responsibility of staff to share HPO staff comments with the commission. Guidance provided by the HPO is non-binding and should not be considered an official ruling by our office or a determination on how the commission should decide a COA case.

HPO staff are always available to offer technical assistance. However, when the commission is requesting technical guidance from the HPO regarding a specific COA application, please follow the above outlined procedures.