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A Certificate of Appropriateness is necessary for all buildings or structures within the Old Lyme Historic District if they are to be erected, altered, removed or demolished. Such a certificate is necessary whether or not a building permit is required. The purpose is to protect the integrity of the Historic District.
Also see "What is a Certificate of Appropriateness". No exterior changes may be made to buildings or structures in the Historic District without a Certificate of Appropriateness. It applies, but is not limited to, the following: Building additions, outbuildings, swimming pools, driveways, parking lots, signs, fences, walls, hedges, walkways, lighting, propane gas tanks, etc.
Prior to submitting formal requests, applicants are encouraged to discuss projects on a preliminary basis at a regular Commission meeting.
A Certificate of Appropriateness is not required for repair or replacement of previously existing features or paint colors. However, please contact the Historic District Commission prior to doing any work if you are not absolutely sure whether or not you need a Certificate of Appropriateness.
Although not necessarily requiring a Certificate of Appropriateness (in many cases a phone call may be sufficient) the Commission should be consulted about the following:
An application form can be obtained from the Planning Commission's office at Town Hall, 52 Lyme Street, or downloaded from the Town's website (select "Boards and Commissions" and then "Historic District Commission").
The Commission has sixty-five (65) days from the date the formal application is received in which to render its decision, although in practice most questions are resolved well before that.
For signs, fences, walls, hedges, walkways, lighting, propane gas tanks, etc. ("Form A"): $25 For building additions, outbuildings, swimming pools, driveways, parking lots, etc. ("Form B"): $50
Most applications the Historic District Commission is asked to consider may be reduced to a single question: Is a given action likely to enhance - or at least preserve - the qualities that identify Old Lyme and that set it apart from other Connecticut towns? If, in the opinion of the majority of the Commission, the answer appears to be "No" then the Commission has no choice but to reject the application as "inappropriate" but if the answer appears to be "Yes" then the application is considered to be "appropriate". In considering an application for a Certificate of Appropriateness, the Commission has no requirements as to specific architectural form or style and it has no mandate to favor the past over the present. Indeed, minute by minute the present is becoming the past. The Commission recognizes that change is inevitable and in many cases desirable, and it asks only that new structures or artifacts introduced into the Historic District and all changes to structures already existing, be appropriate, be competently designed and show respect both for their immediate neighbors and for the District as a whole.
Any person aggrieved by any decision of the Commission may appeal to the Superior Court within fifteen days of receiving written notification of the decision.