Historic Review Process


A Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) is required before any construction, exterior alteration or rehabilitation, moving or demolition of a building or structure on a heritage preservation site.

Heritage preservation sites

Heritage Preservation Sites map; launch it to open more features Opens in new window

Launch the map of heritage preservation sites in Northfield

Download the Northfield Historic District (PDF)

If you are unsure if your property is a heritage preservation site, contact City Planner Mikayla Schmidt.


The downtown Historic District is considered individually and in its entirety a heritage preservation site.

Meeting with the Planning Department

The City of Northfield Planning Department oversees the COA process.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to set up a meeting before submitting an application to discuss your specific project. Contact City Planner Mikayla Schmidt to discuss your project.

Read the full COA review process procedures in Land Development Code, Article 8, Section 8.5.8.

Step 1: research historic property

Learn about the historic property, its character-defining features, and examine historic images of the property.

See the Historic Research Resources

Or contact staff for assistance.

Step 2: complete and submit COA application

  • Fill out the application
  • Pay the applicable fees.
  • Submit any requested documentation including, but not limited to: existing pictures, historical pictures, and proposed designs/plans.

Step 3: application review

Once a complete application is submitted, it will be reviewed by staff and depending on the scope of work, the Heritage Preservation Commission.

The application will be reviewed based on compliance with City Code and Downtown Design Guidelines.

Major work

A project is considered major work for:

  • New construction
  • Demolition
  • Moving
  • Exterior changes

This is reviewed first by staff and then brought to the Heritage Preservation Commission for a final decision.

Minor work

A project is considered minor work for:

  • Ordinary and routine maintenance such as tuck-pointing
  • Maintenance or reconstruction where any exterior surface materials are to be replaced with historically appropriate identical materials and where such replacement materials will be installed to the original historical configuration. This includes, but is not limited to:
    • Repainting
    • Reroofing
    • Residing
    • Replacement of windows with the same form, materials and finish

This is reviewed by staff only.

Appealing decisions

  • If a minor work COA application is denied by staff, it can be appealed to the Heritage Preservation Commission.
  • If the major work COA application is denied by the Heritage Preservation Commission, it can be appealed to the City Council.
  • Steps for the appeal process are outlined in LDC 8.5.8 (E).
  • Such appeals must be made within 10 days of the original decision.

Step 4: complete additional permits

Upon receiving an approved COA, the applicant is responsible for obtaining any additional building, electric, or engineering permits as necessary.

Building permits will not be issued without an approved COA.