Conservation Zoning

Conservation zoning is a planning tool to protect the architectural character of Nashville’s historic neighborhoods by managing growth and change. It is a type of ‘overlay zoning’ that is applied in addition to the ‘base’ land use zoning of an area. The Belmont-Hillsboro Neighborhood Conservation Zoning Overlay, covering 800 properties, was passed by Metro Council in April of 2005 and signed by Mayor Bill Purcell. A 200-property expansion to the overlay was passed by Metro Council in May of 2007 and signed by Mayor Bill Purcell. In 2012, an additional expansion of 100 properties was passed by the Metro Council and signed by Mayor Karl Dean.

Overlay zoning does not impact permitted land uses. Instead, it regulates you, the property owner, when you are planning to:  BRAD

  • Build a new building (primary or secondary, like a garage),
  • Relocate a building.
  • Add to an existing building (enclose a porch, add a roof dormer – anything that increases habitable space), or
  • Demolish a building (in whole or part),

Why did we want a conservation overlay for Belmont-Hillsboro?

Conservation zoning protects a district from:

  • loss of architecturally or historically important buildings,
  • new construction not in character with the neighborhood, and
  • additions to buildings that would lessen their architectural compatibility.

How does conservation zoning work?

If your property is within a neighborhood conservation zoning district and you are planning to demolish a building, construct a new building, add to an existing building, or mover a building, one step is added to the process of getting a building permit for the work: you must obtain a preservation permit from the Metropolitan Historical Zoning Commission (MHZC).

Are there details of the guidelines I have to follow?

Yes, design guidelines are standards which were created jointly by the neighborhood and the MHZC. These are used in the following ways:

  • to determine the architectural compatibility of proposed projects,
  • to provide direction for property owners who want to undertake a project,
  • to ensure that the decisions of the MHZC are not arbitrary, and
  • to work to assure that new construction and additions are sympathetic to the character of a neighborhood and to restrict the loss of architecturally contributing buildings.

By state and local law, all guidelines must be in accordance with the United States Secretary of the Interior’s ‘Standards for the Rehabilitation of Historic Buildings’ – design principles used by private and public preservation agencies throughout the country.

With conservation zoning, are interior projects reviewed?

No, only exterior work which is determined to be visible from the public rights-of-way is reviewed by the MHZC.

With conservation zoning, are exterior paint color choices, fences, landscaping, and interior projects reviewed?

No, only new construction, additions, demolition, and relocation are reviewed in a conservation zoning overlay area. However, in a historic preservation zoning district, all exterior work — including projects like replacing doors and windows, or installing a fence — are reviewed by the MHZC.  Belmont-Hillsboro is NOT in an historic preservation overlay.

Where are the other conservation zoning districts in Nashville?

You can find find a list of all current districts at the Metro Historic Commission site.

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