Frequently Asked Questions
Get Savvy About County Historic District Law
Q: What types of projects need to be approved?
A: For homes within the Sudbrook Park County Historic District, all exterior changes, including reconstruction, additions and deletions must be approved – in advance – by the Baltimore County Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). If in doubt, check with County Preservation Services (410-887-3495) before signing contracts or initiating work. The LPC can insist that projects be removed if they are initiated without required approvals, and the process can result in fines for persons who violate these laws.
Q: What kinds of improvements to qualified historic properties are eligible in the County tax credit program?
A: The tax credit program is intended to encourage and facilitate the rehabilitation of historic properties and approval by the Baltimore County Landmarks Preservation Commission, or staff * must be obtained before beginning any work on the property.
For residential properties the eligible work “does not include alterations that are primarily remodeling projects such as the replacement of a functional kitchen or bathroom,” but eligible expenditures do include:
- Exterior rehabilitation, including roofs, windows, stone and brick work, wood siding or shingles, and lead paint removal;
- Interior rehabilitation, including structural fortification, lead paint removal, and heating, air conditioning, electrical, and plumbing work.
Q: Can the same property receive both the County tax credit and a credit or refund through the (State) Maryland Rehabilitation Tax Credit program?
A: Yes, if the rehabilitation project meets the eligibility requirements of each program (which are generally the same), and complies with the standards of each agency (both of which use the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards). It is especially important to contact the historic preservation staff in the office of Planning as early as possible, to coordinate the separate approvals needed for each program. The Maryland Historical Trust provides full information, and application forms for the state program.
Q:What are the terms of the County tax credit for residential historic properties?
A: The tax credit is 20 percent of the expenses for eligible rehabilitation work, provided that the expenses total at least $1,000. The credit applies against the County real property tax bill, beginning in the next tax year after the year in which the work “or any part” is completed and is certified as complying with the County standards. Any unused part of the total credit may be carried forward into as many as 10 subsequent tax years and is fully transferable to a new owner of the property for the remaining life of the credit.
The tax credit does terminate, however, if the property is altered (before the end of the ten years) so that it no longer complies with the rehabilitation standards by which the property obtained eligibility, or if the property is removed from the Landmarks List.
Q:What is the procedure for obtaining the County tax credit?
A: There are essentially five steps. The first is optional but highly recommended. The other four deal with the mandatory elements in the County law.
Step 1. Informal consultation. Persons intending to seek the county tax credit are strongly advised to schedule an informal meeting with County historic preservation staff in the Office of Planning as early as possible in preparing the project's details. Staff will advise on important aspects.
Step 2. Part I Application. An application must be submitted on which the Office of Planning makes the formal determination that the property constitutes a “historic resource” eligible to participate in the program. This may be submitted simultaneously with the Part II Application if the applicant has already been found (through the discussion in Step 1) to be eligible.
Step 3. Part II Application. An application must be submitted “to the [Landmarks Preservation] Commission with a detailed description of the proposed rehabilitation work.” If the Commission finds that the work qualifies “as eligible rehabilitation work … and [is] in conformance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards,” the Commission issues a certificate of appropriateness or notice to proceed. The applicant can then proceed to obtain the building and other necessary county permits and complete the work in accordance with the certificate/notice. (Note: Applicants, who submit an approved State Part 2 application, along with their County application, can be approved by staff.)
Step 4. Part III Application. After completing the rehabilitation work, a Part III Application is submitted to the Office of Planning. Planning verifies that the completed project is in conformance with the work described and approved in the Part II Application and that all necessary building permits were obtained. Subsequently, the Part III Application is forwarded to the Budget Office for final action.
If the Office of Planning finds that the work is not in compliance, the LPC, at its next meeting, may affirm or reverse Planning’s determination. The Office of Planning is bound by the Commission’s decision and must certify the decision within 5 days to the Budget Director.
Step 5. Final Action Within 30 days after receiving the certification from Planning, the Budget Director must grant or deny the application and notify the applicant of the decision.
Q:Who can tell me more about the County program?
A: Contact Karin Brown in the Office of Planning at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-887-3495. Additional information also can be obtained on the Baltimore County Historic Tax Credit Website found here.
As part of the approval process the owner’s application is reviewed by the Landmarks Preservation Commission or staff *, which must determine whether the proposed work would be "in conformance with The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation.” In essence, these standards stipulate to repair historic features, or replace them in kind.
* Note: County applications accompanied by an approved State Part 2 application can be approved by staff.