Under the Historic Landmark and Historic District Protection Act, the Mayor's Agent is required to hold a public hearing on a permit application in the following instances:
- Demolition of a historic landmark or building contributing to the character of a historic district
- Subdivision of a historic landmark property (including division or assembly of land)
- In cases where the applicant claims unreasonable economic hardship or proposes to construct a project of "special merit"
- Upon request of an applicant having received a recommendation for denial from the Historic Preservation Review Board or Commission of Fine Arts
- In any other case deemed appropriate by the Mayor
- For a permit to be issued after the public hearing, the Mayor's Agent must find that failure to issue the permit would result in unreasonable economic hardship to the owner, or that issuance of the permit is necessary in the public interest.
- "Necessary in the public interest" is defined to mean consistent with the purposes of the Historic Landmark and Historic District Protection Act, or necessary to allow the construction of a project of special merit.
- A "project of special merit" is defined to mean a plan or building having significant benefits to the District of Columbia or to the community by virtue of exemplary architecture, specific features of land planning, or social or other benefits having a high priority for community services.