Roanoke City looks to update guidelines for historic districts

The changes would make it slightly easier for residents to upgrade their homes in certain neighborhoods with strict rules

ROANOKE, Va. – Families living in historic city neighborhoods are living with the reality that when they want to replace a broken window or perhaps even a roof on their home it has to be a specific type of window or roof.

The city is looking to make it slightly easier for these homeowners.

Old Southwest, and parts of Gainsboro and Mountain View, lie within local historic districts that determine how windows, doors, roofs and other aspects of buildings must be repaired or replaced.

Holly Silvers who lives in Mountain View says the restrictions can be expensive.

“If you have 12 windows that need replaced and you have a $200 window but then this historically accurate window that’s $100 or $200 more … that seems fine for a window but that adds up,” Silvers said.

Roanoke’s Architectural Review Board (ARB) is proposing new guidelines to ease the process of installing certain solar panels, more options for roof replacements and allowing homeowners to replace windows when they’re merely “deteriorated,” as opposed to “beyond repair.”

The ARB was formed in 1979 after a decade in which numerous historic buildings in Old Southwest were torn down.

In 2022, an Old Southwest resident appealed an ARB decision denying his request for solar panels on the front of his roof; the city council voted unanimously to reverse the ARB. Last November, a split Council overturned an ARB decision when Jeff Canp improperly replaced historic windows with vinyl windows needed to remove them.

“Instead of thinking that the ARB is discouraging, that we’re encouraging. We want to encourage improvements in these properties and people to move into the neighborhood. We want to be easy to work with,” Bill Mason with the ARB said.

Silvers and her neighbors are all for preserving history but it can be a more cost-effective manner.

“I want to see them preserved. To see the dormer windows preserved, the shape of the porch and the roof lines. A window, a door, the matter of a roof … those are temporary,” Silvers said.

About the Author

Connor Dietrich joined the 10 News team in June 2022. Originally from Castle Rock, Colorado, he's ready to step away from the Rockies and step into the Blue Ridge scenery.

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