Litchfield's Historic District was the first in Connecticut by special act of the General Assembly in 1959. The entire District, which includes more than 475 buildings, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A portion of the Borough is designated as a National Historic Landmark District. All structures within the Borough of Litchfield are included in the Historic District. The boundaries are shown on the map on this site. A more detailed map is available at the Town Hall. The Historic District designation mandates a review process designed to prevent changes which are incongruous with the District's historic and architectural character.
The eight members of the Litchfield Historic District Commission are volunteers appointed by the Borough Warden and Burgesses, and all live within the Borough of Litchfield. The Commission is responsible for protecting and preserving the character and integrity of the District. Even slight changes over time can dramatically alter the appearance of a building and the streetscape.
The Commission's jurisdiction is limited to the exterior features visible from a public way (even if hidden by trees or other plantings), including outbuildings and other structures and devices which alter the appearance of the neighborhood. Examples include, but are not limited to, fences, walls, light fixtures, windows, doors, siding, shutters, roofing, signs, utility structures, satellite dishes, driveways and parking areas. State law prohibits the erection, alteration, or demolition of any such feature within the District until the Commission has issued a Certificate of Appropriateness. The Building Inspector will not issue a permit for a project in the District unless a Certificate has been issued. State law empowers Historic District Commissions to enforce regulations through fines or court proceedings. Regulations can be found in the Connecticut General Statutes Section 7-147a et seq. & The Code of the Borough of Litchfield, Chapter 12, located at the Oliver Wolcott Library and the Litchfield Historical Society. These regulations are separate and apart from the Building Inspector and Planning and Zoning requirements.
Small changes are subject to the same process as larger ones, and the regulations do not make exception for alterations considered by an applicant to be temporary in nature. Repairs, maintenance and replacements may not require a Certificate of Appropriateness if the end result duplicates the original in all aspects, including design and material. In such instances, a Waiver Certificate, available from the Commission during any meeting, is required.
CERTIFICATES OF APPROPRIATENESS
The definition of "appropriateness" must be made based on the style of the existing sturcture and its neighbors. The process is site specific. Virtually every structure in the Historic district is described and pictured in The Historic & Architectural Survey of the Borough of Litchfield. This and other resource materials are available at the Oliver Wolcott Library and the Litchfield Historical Society for those wishing to bcome more familiar with the architectural features and style of their building.
THE APPLICATION PROCESS
Before the first swing of the hammer, property owners are required to submit an application which may be mailed or brought to a meeting. Plans, sketches, photographs, plot plan, material details, size and placement specifications are helpful in the application process and may be required. Applications are available from the Litchfield Town Clerk or Building Inspector.
The Commission meets on the first and third Thursday of each month at 28 Russell Street (behind Flowers of Distinction). A yearly schedule may be obtained from the Town Clerk. Notices of meetings, including cancellations, are posted at the Town Clerk's office at least 24 hours before each meeting.
Applicants may appear at any meeting for a Pre-Hearing to discuss: The need for an application; an initial presentation of work proposed; additional information required to complete the application; the scheduling of a public hearing; or, any other pertinent items.
A Public Hearing must be held on every application before the Commission votes on the application. Such a hearing must be duly noticed by a legal publication in a local newspaper.
Commissioners are more then happy to assist applicants during the planning stages. Phone 567-3970 with any questions regarding the application process or feel free to contact any member of the Commission. A current list of members is located at the Town Hall. Correspondence may be sent to the Borough of Litchfield, Historic District Commission, P.O. Box 1080, Litchfield, CT 06759