The Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) and Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) share review authority in Georgetown. CFA authority is limited to construction that can be seen from a public street or alley. In practice, this includes the vast majority of the exterior construction in the neighborhood. HPRB and the Historic Preservation Office (HPO) review the remaining exterior work not visible from public space.
How is visibility determined?
CFA determines whether a project will be visible from public space. If this is unclear, the CFA staff performs a visibility check on site shortly after receiving the application for review. If the check shows that the project will not be visible, CFA returns the application to the District for the review required by the DC historic preservation law.
Old Georgetown Board Reviews for CFA
The Old Georgetown Board (OGB) is an advisory board of three architects appointed by CFA to review Georgetown projects. It does not approve projects independently. OGB’s recommendations go first to the Commission for adoption at a public meeting before being returned with the project applications to the District of Columbia.
HPO Participation in OGB and CFA Reviews
HPO monitors Georgetown reviews at CFA and provides comments at OGB’s monthly meetings. HPO staff also coordinates the filing of applications for CFA review, and completes the administrative processing of CFA recommendations returned after review.
Preservation Review by HPRB and HPO
The HPO administrative review in coordination with OGB and CFA typically avoids an HPRB hearing. Occasionally, however, HPRB may consider a case reviewed by CFA, if warranted by differing review standards, the importance of the case, or its interest to the community. HPRB also reviews any project involving major work outside CFA jurisdiction. HPO reviews minor work outside CFA jurisdiction.
CFA does not review property subdivisions. HPRB and HPO review subdivisions in Georgetown.