160A-400.4.  Designation of historic districts.

(a)        Any municipal governing board may, as part of a zoning or other ordinance enacted or amended pursuant to this Article, designate and from time to time amend one or more historic districts within the area subject to the ordinance. Such ordinance may treat historic districts either as a separate use district classification or as districts which overlay other zoning districts. Where historic districts are designated as separate use districts, the zoning ordinance may include as uses by right or as conditional uses those uses found by the Preservation Commission to have existed during the period sought to be restored or preserved, or to be compatible with the restoration or preservation of the district.

(b)        No historic district or districts shall be designated under subsection (a) of this section until:

(1)        An investigation and report describing the significance of the buildings, structures, features, sites or surroundings included in any such proposed district, and a description of the boundaries of such district has been prepared, and

(2)        The Department of Cultural Resources, acting through the State Historic Preservation Officer or his or her designee, shall have made an analysis of and recommendations concerning such report and description of proposed boundaries. Failure of the department to submit its written analysis and recommendations to the municipal governing board within 30 calendar days after a written request for such analysis has been received by the Department of Cultural Resources shall relieve the municipality of any responsibility for awaiting such analysis, and said board may at any time thereafter take any necessary action to adopt or amend its zoning ordinance.

(c)        The municipal governing board may also, in its discretion, refer the report and proposed boundaries under subsection (b) of this section to any local preservation commission or other interested body for its recommendations prior to taking action to amend the zoning ordinance. With respect to any changes in the boundaries of such district subsequent to its initial establishment, or the creation of additional districts within the jurisdiction, the investigative studies and reports required by subdivision (1) of subsection (b) of this section shall be prepared by the preservation commission, and shall be referred to the local planning agency for its review and comment according to procedures set forth in the zoning ordinance. Changes in the boundaries of an initial district or proposal for additional districts shall also be submitted to the Department of Cultural Resources in accordance with the provisions of subdivision (2) of subsection (b) of this section.

On receipt of these reports and recommendations, the municipality may proceed in the same manner as would otherwise be required for the adoption or amendment of any appropriate zoning ordinance provisions.

(d)       The provisions of G.S. 160A-201 apply to zoning or other ordinances pertaining to historic districts, and the authority under G.S. 160A-201(b) for the ordinance to regulate the location or screening of solar collectors may encompass requiring the use of plantings or other measures to ensure that the use of solar collectors is not incongruous with the special character of the district.  (1989, c. 706, s. 2; 2009-553, s. 4.)