Historic Preservation Tools

Historic Preservation Plan and/or Plan Element

In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, local governments are authorized to plan for and protect historic resources. A historic preservation plan or historic preservation element is a statement of a community's goals for its historic resources and the actions it will take to reach those goals. It can and should be incorporated into a community's comprehensive planning process.

Historic Zoning Districts, PA Act 167 Historic Districts, and PA Act 247 Historic Overlay Districts

Historic districts that are listed on the National Register or State Register, while prestigious, does not allow a community to regulate new development or protect historic resources. A National Register Historic District does not place obligations or restrictions on a building owner, but it can offer several benefits, such as tax credits for rehabilitation. Through state land use law, municipalities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania can protect historic resources through zoning ordinances. Several successful historic districts are profiled in Success Stories.

Design guidelines

The goal of the design guidelines is to improve the overall aesthetic character and visual unity of a geographic area, from an entire municipality to a delineated historic district.

Form-based codes

Form-based codes encourage predictable and compatible new building construction by using physical form (rather than separation of uses) as the organizing principle for the code. They are regulations, not design guidelines, adopted into a municipality's land use ordinance. Several municipalities in the Greater Philadelphia region use form-based codes to address the relationship between building facades and the public realm, the form and mass of buildings in relation to one another, and the scale and types of streets and blocks. Several municipalities have site form-based codes as a way to preserve the overall character of their historic downtown, while allowing for new development.

  • Haddonfield, Camden County, PA
  • Mt. Holly, Burlington County, NJ

Façade Grant Programs

Façade grant programs, funded through private or public funds, are a way for communities to incentivize reinvestment and/or historic preservation in a geographic area. Most grant program are targeted at older buildings or long-established businesses, and usually require a 50% match. If a façade grant program is operating within a historic zoning district, the proposed improvements will be reviewed by the historical architecture review board or historic preservation commission.