Architectural Review & CHAP

To preserve the historic character and architectural details of the neighborhood, Bolton Hill was designated a Baltimore City historic district in 1967, followed by being listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a testament to its national historic importance. BHCA’s Architectural Review Committee (ARC) must review all changes to the exterior of buildings in Bolton Hill, including windows, doors, lighting, painting, additions, fencing, and landscaping. ARC then makes a recommendation whether to approve the project to the City’s Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP). CHAP gives final approval to proceed with exterior work.

If you are a homeowner or developer planning exterior changes of any kind to your home in Bolton Hill, PLAN AHEAD! Keep in mind that the approval process could take a month. Your plans must be reviewed and approved before they can take place, so plan ahead and consult ARC early on, as it’s to the benefit of homeowners to consult ARC whenever contemplating an exterior change to their property.

ARC is composed of neighbors who live in Bolton Hill. They understand how costly it can be to maintain older buildings and can provide guidance and recommendations in addition to their review role for CHAP.  Helpful information is also on the CHAP website, including Design Guidelines that must be followed.

Review Process

Before undertaking any exterior work, property owners must submit an application to ARC. Complete a CHAP Application-for-Notice-to-Proceed describing the work that you propose. Download the application here. Be sure to include all photos and supporting materials in the application.

Then, email your application to the current ARC chairperson and CHAP planner at the same time. Sending them concurrently speeds up the review process. Contact information for both is included in the application.

Although not required, it is helpful to attend the ARC meeting when your application will be reviewed. The committee meets on the third Wednesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the Maryland Institute College of Art’s Gateway Building, 1601 Mt. Royal Avenue, Room 101. Minor changes and repairs that comply with the Design Guidelines may be approved by CHAP without a formal presentation to ARC.

Provided that ARC recommends and CHAP affirms approval, CHAP will issue a Notice to Proceed directly to the property owner, who may then obtain a City building permit and undertake the planned improvements. Please affix the Notice to Proceed and building permit inside the house’s front window. 

If an owner performs work on a building without first obtaining a Notice to Proceed and a building permit, he or she may be subject to housing code violations and fines.

A certified rehabilitation may qualify for property tax benefits through CHAP and/or a state tax credit through the Maryland Historical Trust, which must be approved before work on the house begins.

For questions and assistance, you may contact ARC by email at or call CHAP at 410-396-4866.

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