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How to Obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness for Exterior Renovation and Alterations and New Construction

General Information

Before a building permit can be issued for alterations or new construction on a landmark site or in an historic district, the Landmarks Commission must approve the project and issue a "certificate of appropriateness" that certifies that the work will be compatible with the historic character of a building and/or its neighborhood.

To determine whether or not a building is listed as a landmark or in an historic district, check the City Assessors web page at  On the web page is a section that enables you to find out basic property information by address.  If the property is subject to the Landmarks Commission's ordinance it will have a corresponding suffix (or prefix) on the zoning category, such as R2 "HIS-FS."

The suffixes are:

            *      for designated landmarks,  HIS-L.

            *      for the Mansion Hill historic district, H.

            *      for the Third Lake Ridge historic district, HIS-TL.

            *      for the University Heights historic district, HIS-UH.

            *      for the Marquette Bungalows historic district, HIS-MB.

            *      for the First Settlement historic district, HIS-FS.

The ordinances for the Third Lake Ridge, University Heights, Marquette Bungalows and First Settlement include criteria for review of alterations that were developed cooperatively by the Landmarks Commission and neighborhood property owners (please note that Mansion Hill does not have specific review criteria for alterations).  For reviewing new construction projects, each historic district also has separate criteria that the Landmarks Commission must follow.

In rare instances, the Landmarks Commission can issue a variance from the criteria. For more information, see Madison General Ordinances Sec. 33.01(15) or contact the Landmarks Commission staff. 

City of Madison
Department of Planning & Community & Economic Development