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Proposed Neighborhood Conservation Districts

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As a part of the comprehensive update to the Zoning Code, the Township is proposing the creation of a new type of area to recognize and preserve the character of traditional neighborhoods. The intent of the proposed Neighborhood Conservation Districts is to preserve the form, character, and scale of older neighborhoods with consistent architecture and development patterns.

What are Neighborhood Conservation Districts (NCDs)?

NCDs are neighborhoods that have been identified as having a consistent form, whether in terms of scale, development pattern, age, or density. The main intent of designating areas as NCDs is to maintain those distinctive qualities, and as a result preserve their historical significance and architectural integrity through zoning regulation and design education. NCDs will not stop demolition, but they will control the form, scale, and appearance of new construction in order to protect the character and value of surrounding properties.

The standards are the requirements that new construction and modifications to existing buildings in an NCD will have to adhere to. The Design Guidelines is a document showing visual examples of the standards and provides other recommendations for the treatment of properties within NCD boundaries to encourage keeping the neighborhood character intact.

The Review Process

• An application for a building permit triggers review of exterior modifications that are visible from the public way.
• Township Staff reviews application for compliance with NCD standards.
• Staff meets with applicant to review how proposal adheres to the Design Guidelines.
• If Staff determines that standards have been followed, application will be passed on for the normal review of a Township building inspector.
• If proposal does not comply, Staff will work with applicant to bring proposal into compliance.
• If a resolution cannot be reached, proposal will go to the Township’s Historical Architectural Review Board (HARB) for review. HARB’s task would be to determine if the proposed modification matches the prevailing character of the NCD, even if it may not conform with the guidelines.
• If applicant does not agree with HARB’s determination, it can be appealed to the Board of Commissioners.

What is the Township Proposing?

Along with the Design Guidelines, the creation of three pilot NCDs is proposed at this time: South Ardmore, South Merion Station, and Cynwyd. These three areas represent some of the Township’s most intact and architecturally consistent residential neighborhoods built at the turn of the 20th century.

How are NCDs Different from Historic Districts?

Applications in NCDs can be approved administratively by Staff if they are found to comply with the Design Guidelines, while all applications in Historic Districts must first go to the HARB. Though demolition of existing structures in NCDs is discouraged, it cannot be prohibited. The main goal of NCD oversight is to ensure that the scale and character of the district is maintained, including that of any new construction.

What Comes Next?

The NCDs are one of the new aspects of the Zoning Code update, which is expected to be adopted this year. After that time, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) can evaluate the proposed districts and affirm the Township’s proposed boundaries as early as Fall 2019.


Read the draft Design Guidelines for Neighborhood Conservation Districts (29 MB PDF)

Read the draft standards for Neighborhood Conservation Districts (161 KB PDF)

Learn More: Neighborhood Conservation District Workshops

The Township is holding three workshops to explain the purpose of the NCDs, introduce the Design Guidelines document, explain what it would mean to own a property in an NCD, and show what benefits NCDs would bring to each community and the Township as a whole. Each presentation will be followed by a Q&A.

Township staff and the Township’s historic preservation consultants will present and answer your questions. These workshops are sponsored by the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office.

April 30, 2019: Union Fire Association, 149 Montgomery Avenue, Bala Cynwyd

CANCELLED May 14, 2019: Cynwyd Club, 332 Trevor Lane, Bala Cynwyd

CANCELLED May 28, 2019: Household of Faith Deliverance Worship Center, 130 E Athens Avenue, Ardmore

These workshops have been postponed. Check this page for new meeting dates.



Township Map - HDs and NCDs

View a map of the Township showing the locations of the three proposed Neighborhood Conservation Districts.

View a map of the proposed Cynwyd Neighborhood Conservation District.

View a map of the proposed South Ardmore Neighborhood Conservation District.

View a map of the proposed South Merion Station Neighborhood Conservation District.