The College Park Old Town Historic District is a proposed historic designation for the houses located roughly between Route 1, Paint Branch, and Calvert Road. The neighborhood developed as a streetcar suburb of Washington, D.C. in the late 19th and early 20th century. The College Park City Council approved an amendment to their application at their May 9, 2006 meeting (PDF) where several residents aired concerns about the district designation especially as it relates to home improvement. On June 1, 2006 the Historic Preservation Commission voted to approve the district and the corresponding design guidelines, however it has been appealed to the Zoning Hearing Examiner. No date has been set for this hearing. If the Zoning Hearing Examiner agrees with the HPC, the matter will then be considered by the County Planning Board.
If the historic district is adopted, property owners will be required to obtain a Historic Area Work Permit (HAWP) from the county Historic Preservation Commission before making a variety of changes to the buildings or land they own:
Section 29-107 establishes the requirements for HAWPs for publicly or privately owned Historic Sites or property within an Historic District. HAWPs are required for constructing, reconstructing, moving, relocating, demolishing, or in any manner modifying, changing, or altering exterior features; and for grading, excavating, construction, or substantially modifying, changing, or altering features within an Historic Site’s Environmental Setting or within the boundaries of an Historic District. In addition, an HAWP is required for any sign or advertisement other than those exempted from sign permit requirements of the county’s zoning ordinance.
The Draft Old Town Historic District Design Guidelines provides an overview of the district and general information about the application of the law, and will become an official document if the district is adopted:
Old Town is interspersed with historic/stately homes, low rise apartment buildings, and more modern single family homes. Much of the neighborhood has become dominated by student renters because of its proximity to campus.