Comstock Historic District Commission FAQs
Q: What is the legal authority for the Comstock Historic District Commission (CHDC)?
Q: When was the CHDC created?
A: NRS 384 was enacted in 1969 with a major amendment in 1972.
Q: When were the district boundaries established?
A: They were initially established June 2nd, 1972. They have been modified on several occasions since then, most recently in 2018.
Q: What is a Certificate of Appropriateness (CofA)?
A: A property owner within the district boundaries must get a CofA from the CHDC prior to doing a range construction type projects on his/her property.
Q: What type of work requires a CofA?
A: No structure may be erected, reconstructed, altered, restored, moved or demolished within the historic district without the CHDC issuing a CofA for the exterior architectural features of the proposed project.
Q: What is the definition of a "structure"?
A: A structure includes any building no matter the purpose, a house trailer, a mobile home, stone wall, fence, light fixture, step, paving, advertising sign, bill poster or any appurtenant fixture. It does not include structures or signs of a temporary nature, trees or shrubs, movable objects such as autos, or other landscape features.
Q: What is the definition of "exterior architectural features"?
A: The architectural style, general design and general arrangement of a structure, including the kind and texture of the building material, the type and style of all windows, doors, light fixtures and signs, color and other appurtenant fixture.
Q: What work is excluded from the CofA requirement?
A: Work which effects only the interior of a structure, work which constitutes ordinary maintenance or repair of the exterior of a structure without changing any of its exterior architectural features, work which is certified by the local building inspector or similar authority as being required by public safety because of an unsafe or dangerous condition.
Q: What about cases of "hardship"?
A: The CHDC may allow work which is inappropriate to go forward if there is substantial hardship to the applicant because of conditions especially affecting the structure involved but not the district as a whole. The CHDC must determine that issuing the certificate will not cause substantial detriment to the public welfare or the purpose of NRS 384. This does not, however, mean that hardship cases are exempt from having to apply for a CofA.
Q: If I do not need a building permit for my work, do I still need to apply for a CofA?
A: If the work you wish to do meets the requirements discussed above it makes no difference if you need a building permit or not, you still must apply for a CofA.
Q: How often does the CHDC meet?
A: They meet on the second Monday of each month.
Q: Can my project be approved by CHDC staff or must it go before the Commission?
A: Many small scale projects may be approved by staff if they conform to our design guidelines. Projects which do not meet our design criteria and most large projects of any type must be agendized and approved by the Commission.
Q: How and when do I get on the CHDC meeting agenda?
A: All applicants for a CofA must complete an application form and need supporting documentation with the CHDC staff at their office in Virginia City. Materials must be submitted at least 10 working days prior to the Commission meeting. No project can be reviewed at a CHDC meeting unless it is on the agenda for that meeting.
Q: Once I am approved, then what?
A: You will be provided with a copy of the CofA and may proceed. Bear in mind that you may still need a county building permit.
Q: What if I go ahead with my project without a CofA?
A: You may have a Stop Work Order placed on your project. The CHDC will make every effort to work with you. However, the potential civil penalties for violations of NRS 384 are $500.00 per violation with each day out of compliance counting as a separate violation.
Please remember to:
- Plan ahead.
- Check the design guidelines.
- Call if you have any questions.
- Do not hesitate to have CHDC staff take a firsthand look at your project when you are in the planning stages.