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Allentown Historical Architectural Review Board (HARB)

What is the HARB?

The HARB is a seven-member public body created by the Historic District Ordinance and appointed by City Council. The members of the HARB must include a registered architect, a licensed real estate broker, and building inspector. Four members, and one alternate, shall be persons with knowledge of, and interest in, the preservation of the historic district(s), and at least three members of the HARB shall be residents or property owners of the historic district(s).  All members and alternate members are City residents, or at the discretion of city Council, persons not residents of the City, but who have a significant property or business interest in the City.

What does the HARB do?

The HARB reviews applications for exterior modifications to structures located in Allentown’s three historic districts and makes recommendations to City Council. HARB also provides advisory comments for demolitions of historic structures located within the Historic Building Demolition Control Overlay (See section 1314.03 of the Zoning Ordinance for more information)

When are HARB meetings?

Date: First Monday of each month
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Location: 5th Floor Conference Room of City Hall
435 Hamilton Street
Allentown, PA
Agendas can be found in the Legistar portal.

How do I apply to HARB?

For an overview of the process please see the HARB Review Flowchart. When considering making exterior changes, you should first contact the Historic Preservation Planning Officer, 4th Floor, City Hall, (610-437-7613) between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. After receiving basic information (name, address, phone number, location of property, work to be done) staff will determine the level of review necessary for the proposed project. For many cases, if the applicant is following the recommendations contained in the Guidelines for Historic Districts approval can be obtained at a staff level. If HARB review is needed, the applicant must fill out an application for a Certificate of Appropriateness and appear before the Board at its next monthly meeting.  Applications for HARB review must be made at least 10 days prior to the meeting date. There is a $25 fee for the application.

What happens after I get a recommendation from HARB?

After the Board meeting, its recommendations will be sent to City Council for final action at their next regular meeting. If Council approves, any additional permits that are necessary may be picked up at 8:30 a.m. (if not already submitted) the next morning in the Division of Inspections, 4th Floor, City Hall, 610-437-7591. A Certificate of Appropriateness will also be mailed to each applicant.

Please note that all City permit processes (zoning, building, plumbing, electrical, etc.) apply to the historic districts in the same way as in other sections of the City. HARB approval is based on historic and architectural criteria only and does not relieve the applicant of the responsibility to secure other permits from other City agencies when relevant.

Have more questions about HARB and the Application Process?

See our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.