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Conservation Overlay: FAQs

The following information is based on FAQs published by the city of Greensboro, NC. To see the Greensboro .pdf document, click here.

What is a Neighborhood Conservation Overlay district?
A Neighborhood Conservation Overlay District is a zoning layer placed on top of the
base zoning district that serves to protect unique features of a residential
neighborhood. The zoning overlay is tailor-made to each neighborhood and reflects
the special qualities of that place. It protects elements visible from the public rightof-
way and may vary from setbacks and building massing to distinct architectural
features to special natural or environmental characteristics. An NCO also serves to
facilitate compatible development or redevelopment.

How will a conservation district help a neighborhood?
One of the goals of a Conservation Overlay District is to stabilize and enhance
neighborhood character and setting by providing a clear plan and set of design
guidelines that accurately reflects the neighborhood as a cohesive unit. In doing so,
by establishing a higher standard of development, NCOs typically stabilize property
values and encourage quality new development and reinvestment in the area.
Increased neighborhood pride, resident involvement, and a greater sense of
community often result from this recognition as a unique and special place.

What changes will happen when a neighborhood becomes a conservation district?
The purpose of an NCO is to protect the existing setting and features of a
neighborhood, so a property owner will not have to change or alter the property due
to the designation. If the owner does want to alter the property and the proposed
changes are addressed in the neighborhood design guidelines, plans will be reviewed
by City staff to ensure that any alterations are compatible with the existing
neighborhood guidelines.

Who will decide how the guidelines will affect my property?
It is the neighborhood’s and stakeholders’ decision as to what is regulated and what
is not within the overlay district. The neighborhood creates its own design guidelines
and conservation plan with the help of City staff. The City serves to help property
owners comply with the neighborhood’s goals.

How are neighborhood boundaries defined?
Boundaries should reflect a cohesive built environment that represents common
characteristics and setting of the neighborhood.

How are the guidelines and plan written?
Neighborhoods workshops are held, where residents identify the special characteristics they want to see conserved. The neighborhood and staff then create a plan and guidelines that accurately reflect the goals and characteristics of the
neighborhood.

Is a Neighborhood Conservation District same as an Historic District?
No. Conservation Overlay Districts and Historic Districts serve different purposes. Generally speaking, the guidelines for an NCO are less strict than for a Historic District. The neighborhood residents’ desires is a major factor in creating an NCO.

Will having an NCO make me change the appearance of my property or rehabilitate it right now?
No. Property owners are not required to alter their properties upon designation. If,
however, an owner wishes to alter property after designation, the owner would be
required to follow any applicable NCO guidelines.

Will the guidelines be able to regulate paint color?
No. Painting is considered ordinary repair and maintenance and is not regulated.

Will I be able to put new vinyl windows and vinyl siding?
If the neighborhood decides that vinyl is an acceptable material, then yes.

Is demolition regulated?
Yes

Is there a design committee review for alterations or for new construction?
Yes. Review may be done by a Review Board or deferred to town staff.

How long will review take and will there be a fee?
There is no fee for plan review and design assistance for proposed alterations in
addition to the normal fees associated with building permits. Major alterations and
new construction follow the same timeline as any project requiring a building permit.

Can an NCO be used to exclude certain types of housing?
No. An NCO is used to maintain the character, setting and identity of a
neighborhood and to promote quality, respectful investment. If a parcel is currently
zoned for multi-family, an NCO will not change that current land use.

Will an NCO downzone my property?
No, the existing base zoning will remain unchanged. Any vacant parcels will also
maintain the range of uses permitted by the underlying zoning. However, the NCO
may affect the dimensional standards (lot area, setbacks, building height, etc.), but
not the use or density of the base zoning.

Will different land uses have different guidelines?
Commercial and multi-family areas often have different characteristics and settings
from their residential neighbors even when they are located within the same
neighborhood. In order to conserve these special characteristics, neighborhoods
may have different guidelines in order to protect the special qualities of each area.

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Mooresville Mill Village Initiative
last updated November 2, 2009