The Arlington Historical Commission is an official board of the town. Made up of seven volunteer commissioners appointed by the Town Manager, the Historical Commission is chartered under the town's by-laws to review and act upon any applications for building permits that involve substantial exterior changes to historically or architecturally significant structures in Arlington. In order to administer the by-law, the Commission maintains an inventory of approximately 1,200 historically and architecturally significant structures in town, which is updated periodically. The Commission has the authority to delay the issuance of a building permit and/or the demolition of a structure on the inventory for up to 12 months if necessary.
The Historical Commission has jurisdiction only if the planned changes to a structure total more than 25 percent of front or side elevation visible from a public way. The Commission does not have jurisdiction over the color of a house, landscaping, or interior renovations.
The Hearing Process
If your house is on the inventory of significant structures and you apply for a building permit in order to make major changes to the exterior of the house, the town building inspector will alert you to the need for a hearing in front of the Historical Commission, and urge you to contact us directly.
If you think your house may be on the list, you can save yourself potential delays in your construction schedule by contacting us even before you apply for a building permit.
Once a hearing is scheduled, a legal notice advertising the hearing is placed in the local newspaper, and notices are sent to all your neighbors.
The hearings are held during our regular meetings on the first Tuesday of each month.