What is a conservation district?
A conservation district is a change in zoning that preserves an area’s distinctive atmosphere or character through architectural guidelines, development standards, and special zoning provisions including land uses and setbacks. Unlike historic district designation, which is highly restrictive, each conservation district ordinance is tailor-made to the neighborhood and what it collectively wants to conserve. The ordinance can be as rigorous as preserving specific elements such as stained glass windows, or it can just simply define the setbacks and height for new construction.
What’s the difference between a conservation district and an historic district?
Historic districts are much more restrictive than conservation districts.
Does being in a conservation district result in the City telling me what to do and what not to do?
In some instances, yes. As a part of becoming a conservation district, architectural standards are developed for and with the agreement of the neighborhood. Some proposals (e.g., building materials, fences, window/door styles) that are inconsistent with the neighborhood and the ordinance standards will result in alternative solutions having to be found. However, activities such as painting and repairing your home are not generally regulated by the conservation district.
How does being a conservation district help my neighborhood?
A conservation district can help stabilize a neighborhood by preserving its architectural features. Increased neighborhood pride often results from this recognition as a unique and special place. Increased property owner/resident involvement in neighborhood issues is often another positive result of conservation district designation.
What are the benefits of becoming a conservation district?
The primary benefit is preserving the beauty and history of the neighborhood, and keeping people from coming into our community and destroying that beauty with inappropriate architecture. New homes can be built to fit in with the character of our neighborhood.
How will this affect current homeowners?
First of all, the conservation district requirements only apply when you make changes to the parts of your property that are visible from the street. Residents of most conservation districts must apply for changes to the exterior of their home, demolition, and new construction. All reviews of work are completed by Planning Department staff in partnership with the applicant, ensuring that all proposals are consistent with the neighborhood and its ordinance.
Will I still be able to add on to my house?
Yes! The conservation district ordinance will only apply to parts of your house that are visible from the street. Otherwise, you can do whatever you want. For instance, you can build up and back, adding an upstairs.
Are there other conservation districts in Dallas?
Yes, there are currently eight other conservation districts in Dallas, including Hollywood Heights Conservation District, North Cliff Conservation District, King’s Highway Conservation District, and Bishop / 8th Street Conservation District.
What are the boundaries of the Belmont Addition Conservation District?
The District is bounded by Greenville Ave. to the West, Skillman to the East, Belmont to the South and Llano to the North. For Belmont and Llano, both sides of the street are included.
I am doing exterior renovations to my home. What types of permits do I need?
Anytime you make changes to the exterior of your home, you’ll need to get a Conservation District Permit. You can download the permit form from this website, or get it from the Development Services Department or Building Inspection. You’ll turn the form in to Building Inspection, and they will forward the application to the Development Department.
On the review form, you’ll need to provide the property owner’s name, address, and phone number, a description of the work to be done, and the name of the conservation district in which the property is located (we are the “Belmont Addition Conservation District”). This allows the Development Department staff to compare the proposed work with the conservation district ordinance and ensure that the work meets all of the requirements. In addition, if you are making structural changes to your home, you may also need to get a Building Permit. You can get a copy of this form at the Building Inspection Office or online at www.dallascityhall.com. You will return the completed form to the Building Inspection office at the same time you apply for your Conservation District Permit. When you start your project, you must prominently display both the Conservation District Permit and the Building Permit side-by-side in your window. The bottom line is: When you are making non-structural changes to the exterior of your house, you’ll need to get a Conservation District Permit. When you are making structural changes to the exterior of your house, you’ll need to get both a Conservation District Permit and a Building Permit.
What type of work requires a Conservation District Permit?
A. Any work that alters the exterior appearance of your home will require a Conservation District Permit. Some examples include:
o Building a new fence (if visible from the street)
o Altering the “waterfall steps” leading from the sidewalk to the house
o Installing new windows or doors
o Installing a new roof
o Building on vacant lots
o Altering/removing/brick or stonework
o Enclosing or opening a porch
o Demolishing the home
o Installing or altering retaining walls
o Any other exterior modifications
When is a building permit required?
A. A building permit is typically required for work being done that affects the structure of a home or garage. Building permits can be obtained at the Oak Cliff Municipal Center. The applicant must submit plans of the work to be done and the appropriate fee prior to receiving the permit. Depending on the work to be done, the application process can take from 2 days to 6 weeks to complete.
Examples of work that requires a building permit include:
o Creating a new opening for window or door
o Building an addition
o Putting on a new roof
How long does it take to get a Conservation District Permit?
Depending on the complexity of the work to be done, a response can be given to the applicant between 1 and 5 days.
What do I do if I see construction or alterations without the Conservation District Permit?
Call the City of Dallas Code Enforcement at 214-957-8669 and e-mail us here.
I’ve heard we won’t be allowed to paint the brick on our houses, is this true?
THIS IS NOT TRUE! The ordinance does NOT prohibit (or even address) painting your brick or stone, nor does it address the color of paint you can use. You can paint your house fluorescent purple if you like, even if you live in a Tudor. What the ordinance requires is that you match your brick as closely as possible if you’re doing renovations on the front. So if you’ve got painted brick, you’d need to paint the new brick the same color. If your brick is not painted, you can paint it and the new brick.
Is the 30 ft. height requirement enough to add a full second story living area?
Absolutely! It makes sense when you think about it: 10-foot ceilings on the first and second floors with a foot between the floors, PLUS an 8 foot attic=30 feet. So the proposed height requirement is very generous and will not prevent renovations.
What is the rationale behind requiring that lots with new construction post a sign showing how the front facade will look?
This will give the residents of our neighborhood the ability to know what is being built in our neighborhood. This will allows the neighborhood to be confident that what is being built is in compliance with the conservation district ordinance and will fit in with the adjacent homes, and allow us to raise any questions before the home is built.
Must we pay dues to maintain the Conservation District?
No. This is not a homeowners’ association. This is a zoning designation by the City of Dallas to protect our neighborhood. You will not be required to pay dues, nor any other fees to support the conservation district.
So you’re against new houses being built in the neighborhood?
Absolutely not. Our goal is not to stop new construction, but to require that new homes blend in with the rest of the neighborhood. Some of the homes in our neighborhood are in such poor condition that they cannot be rehabilitated, so razing them and starting anew may be the only option. However, builders can be sensitive to the area’s architectural character, and create homes that augment, rather than detract, from our neighborhood’s charm.
But these new, huge homes increase my property value, right?
First of all, let’s remember that the our neighborhood was increasing in value long before the larger homes began moving in. Once the new homes outnumber the older ones, however, your home will be worth only lot value: The only reason anyone would buy a little craftsman in the middle of a neighborhood of large homes would be to scrape it off and build a much larger, new home. Furthermore, becoming a conservation district increases property values. In a 1999 study done by Rutgers University and the University of Texas, the property values of homes in historic districts in Texas increased by 5% to 20% compared to similar homes in non-protected areas.