Birmingham Design Review Committee

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The Birmingham Design Review Committee is charged with interpreting and enforcing design review guidelines that have been established for various historic and commercial revitalization districts in the city of Birmingham. The group, which operates as a "sub-board" of the Birmingham Planning and Zoning Committee, meets twice a month at the UAB Facilities Conference Center on 6th Avenue South.

Before the Committee was established (by Section 7-1-185 of the General Code of the City of Birmingham) in 1980, these duties fell to the Birmingham Historical Commission.

A "Certificate of Appropriateness" from the Design Review Committee is required when any work requiring a permit is proposed within a historic district that would change the exterior appearance of a building as it is seen from a public right of way. Certain districts have their own advisory boards which can make an initial determination before a case goes before the Birmingham Design Review Committee.

Cases are referred to the committee by the Birmingham Department of Planning, Engineering and Permits. The committee then reviews presentations made by owners, architects, or other owner's representatives for compliance with established guidelines. The committee can then vote whether to approve, approve with qualifications, or reject applications for their "Certificate of Appropriateness". Without this certificate, a building permit can not be issued, and the approved work must be completed as approved before a permit is closed out. If a building official determines that work being performed is not in compliance with the requirements, a stop work order is issued until revised plans to bring the project into compliance are approved.

Appeals against the Committee's decisions based on a demonstration that the required work presents an economic hardship. If this is established, the city has an opportunity to provide financial incentives to meet the requirements of the committee, or the committee can waive the requirements. Failing this, an applicant can file for final appeal to the circuit court of Jefferson County.

Composition

The Birmingham Design Review Committee is made up of 11 members appointed by the Birmingham City Council. Two-year alternating terms expire on July 30.

The current membership includes:

References