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Policy on Additions and Site Alterations to Structures in Georgetown

The Old Georgetown Board is an advisory committee to the Commission of Fine Arts for projects in its jurisdiction under the federal Old Georgetown Act of 1950; the Board reviews each project and forwards its recommendation to the Commission of Fine Arts for formal action. The Board seeks to inform the public regarding guidelines for proposed additions and alterations to structures in Georgetown.

The Old Georgetown Board recommends that new additions serve as subordinate elements to historic buildings in the Old Georgetown historic district. The additions should not approach doubling the size of an existing building, nor become the dominant element, regardless of what the zoning regulations may allow. As much historic fabric as possible should be maintained at the connection between the historic structure and the new construction. Historically-inspired details should be stylistically subservient to the authentic fabric, rather than establish a non-compatible or ambiguous character. New exterior materials should be compatible with the historic materials.

New rear additions should not project substantially beyond the extent of adjacent buildings of similar type. New side additions that obliterate or substantially obstruct side yards and block views from public space toward the interior of the block are discouraged. Additions to roofs that are visible from a street or substantially alter the historic character of the building are discouraged.

Extensive underground additions are discouraged in order to preserve, protect, or replace existing mature trees and landscape, which are important character-defining elements within Old Georgetown. Similarly, the Board opposes the excessive paving of existing yards and encourages the removal of existing impervious surfaces in order to establish a more sustainable landscape. The Board strongly discourages new curb cuts and the expansion of paved areas for additional parking in front yards where curb cuts already exist.

Applicants should not assume that projects complying with this policy will automatically receive approval; the Old Georgetown Board and Commission of Fine Arts review each submission on a case-by-case basis with consideration of factors relevant to the individual property.

Updated and approved February 2009.

Last Modified: March 3, 2009