Historic District and the Historic and Architectural Review Board

The Borough has an appointed Historic and Architectural Review Board (HARB) in accordance with the State Act which enables the designation of Historic Districts in Pennsylvania. The Borough has an official Historic District which is "overlayed" on the Zoning District map. The HARB reviews all exterior building changes, additions, new construction, demolition, and signs, within the designated Historic District. The Board does not regulate the repainting or color of buildings as long as no other construction is planned.

Download a map of the Historic District here.

HARB History and Purpose

In 1961 The Historic District Act authorized the establishment of local Historic Districts and Historic Architectural Review Boards. The Historic District within the Borough and the Borough Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB) were established in 1970 reflecting the commitment of the citizens of the Borough of Doylestown to preserving and protecting the cultural heritage of the community.

The Borough Of Doylestown Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB) consists of nine (9) members appointed by Borough Council to serve three‐year overlapping terms. HARB provides counsel and recommendations to property owners and business owners seeking Certificates of Appropriateness, as well as making recommendations to Borough Council on the advisability of issuing Certificates of Appropriateness, for all exterior building changes, additions, new construction, demolition, and signs, within the designated Historic District.

In considering whether or not to issue a Certificate of Appropriateness, HARB and Council consider the general design, arrangement, texture, material, and color of the building or structures and the relation of such factors to similar features of buildings and structures in the Historic District. The issuance of a Certificate of Appropriateness demonstrates that the property owner, HARB and Council have agreed that a proposed change to the exterior of a building will be consistent with, and preserve the general historic and architectural features of the Historic District.

The jurisdiction of HARB and Council is limited to exterior architectural features of buildings and structures (including fences, signs, retaining walls, etc.) that can be seen from a public street or way. Modifications to the interior of a structure are exempt from HARB requirements, although construction permits may be required before such work can proceed. HARB does not regulate painting.

Procedure For Obtaining a Certificate of Appropriateness

  • Determine if your property is located in a Doylestown Borough Historic District. You may examine a map at Borough Hall or click the link provided above to see one. You can also call the Borough Building and Zoning Department at (215) 345-4140.
  • Complete sign permit application or zoning permit application as necessary.
  • Bring the completed application package and copies to the Borough Zoning and Planning Office at 10 Doyle Street, Doylestown Borough.
  • The staff will accept your completed certificate application. You must attach the correct number of copies of the Presentation Package. See the list below for what must be included. Staff will not accept incomplete applications.
  • Completed applications must be submitted a minimum of ten (10) business days prior to the monthly HARB meeting. It is recommended that applicants submit the required zoning and construction code permit applications a minimum of twenty (20) business days prior to the HARB monthly meeting date to allow the Zoning Officer and Code Official sufficient time to determine compliance with the applicable ordinances and codes. HARB meets at 10 Doyle St. on the 4th Thursday of each month at 7:30 P.M. HARB will discuss your application with you at the meeting and may provide recommendations, stipulations or conditions for approval. If your application is denied the reason for the denial will be explained at the meeting.
  • Written decisions are mailed to all applicants. The process of obtaining construction permits begins after Council issues a Certificate of Appropriateness.
  • Your application will be reviewed by HARB. Note – You must be present at the HARB meeting for your application to be reviewed. HARB normally meets the 4th Thursday of each month, be sure to check the meeting date and time when you submit your application.
  • Do not begin work or order a sign until your application has been approved, you have applied for other necessary permits and have an issued permit in your hand.

The information provided in this guide is intended only to assist individuals in understanding the code requirements. It is not a complete recitation of the code. Property owners should consult the Doylestown Borough Code of Ordinance for answers to specific questions.