Historic & Architectural Review Commission


  1. Contact the planning department at 444-8690 to see if your desired change can be done through the administrative approval process or if it requires the formal application process.
  1. The administrative approval process requires an official request to planning staff.  If the request is allowed by ordinance to be approved by an administrative approval, staff forwards the request to the Chairman of HARC along with any evidence submitted.  If the Chairman approves the request, a Certificate of Zoning Compliance is issued.  If the Chairman does not approve the request or the request is not allowable as an administrative approval, then the formal application process must be undertaken.
  1. The formal application process is as follows.  An applicant for a Certificate of Zoning Compliance from the Historical and Architectural Review Commission (HARC) picks up an application from the City of Paducah’s Planning Office on the second floor of City Hall.
  1. The applicant fill out the two-page application and returns it to staff in the Planning Department.
  1. It is required that the application include supporting evidence and information including:
    1. Current photographs of the property or structure where changes are to be made.
    2. Physical samples of all materials, items or devices to be installed.  Samples should accurately show color, texture and scale.
    3. For fences, new construction or additions, a site plan of the property should be submitted that shows all existing structures and property lines and proposed improvements.
    4. For new construction and major restoration projects, exterior elevations drawn to scale showing all architectural detailing.  All existing and proposed materials and finishes shall be identified, noted on the elevation, and keyed to the photographs.

  1. An application must be received at least 10 days before a HARC meeting at 12:00 PM in order to be included on the agenda.  This allows time to place the required legal notice in the newspaper.  There are no exceptions to this requirement.
  1. If the application is filled out properly and the supporting evidence provided, staff puts the application on the agenda of the next HARC meeting.  The HARC meets on the second Monday of each month at 5:30 PM in the City Commission room on the second floor of City Hall.
  1. Staff prepares a legal notice that is published in the Paducah Sun.  The applicant will not be billed by the Paducah Sun for the cost of the notice.
  1. HARC members are mailed a copy of the application prior to the meeting for their review.  The applicant may wish to hold an informal consultation with the HARC Board prior to the meeting in order to discuss the application.
  1. The HARC meets to review and vote on the application.  The applicant is urged to attend the HARC meeting when the application is reviewed.  This allows the applicant the opportunity to speak or answer questions.  Other interested persons are also invited to attend the meeting and speak before the HARC board.
  1. After discussion and questions, the five-persons HARC board will vote to do one of the following:
    1. Approve the application:
    2. Disapprove the application:
    3. Disapprove the application as submitted but approve the same with such modifications as may be necessary to bring it into compliance.
    4. Defer the decision for a period of no longer than one month and one day so that additional information can be obtained.
  1. All votes are accompanied by a finding of facts justifying the decision of the HARC. 
  2. If the application is approved, a Certificate of Zoning Compliance will be granted.  Then a Certificate of Land Use Restriction is recorded at the McCracken County Courthouse.  The applicant is then free to obtain a building permit from the Inspection Department and begin work.  An inspection will be made at some point to ensure that the work being done follows the project description.
  1. If the application is denied, the applicant is urged to submit a new application addressing the reasons for denial included in the Findings of Facts prepared by the HARC.

Any person aggrieved by any action of the HARC may appeal the decision to the Circuit Court in the manner prescribed for appeals from actions by Boards of Adjustments (KRS 100.261).

  1. Any applicant with questions about the HARC process should feel free to contact the City of Paducah Planning Department at 444-8690.


Who belongs to HARC?

The HARC consists of five members, each appointed by the Mayor and approved by the City Commission.  The term of office for each member is three years.

What qualifications are there for HARC members?

The HARC is a highly specialized administrative body.  Where practical, its membership is to include at least two preservation related professional members from the fields of architecture history, archaeology, history, planning or related fields.  All members shall have an interest in historic preservation and a background of historical study.  When one or two professionals are not available, the Mayor may appoint other persons interested in historic preservation to serve.

What type of work does the historic zoning ordinance cover?

The City of Paducah’s historic zoning ordinance states that no person shall cause or permit changes in the exterior appearance of real estate lying within a historical zone without first applying for and obtaining a special conditional use permit, to be known as a Certificate of Appropriateness.

What does the phrase “changes in exterior appearance mean”?

  1. This includes additive changes, such as:
    1. Material changes of the exterior appearance of any existing building by addition, reconstruction, alteration or maintenance, including changes in color, form or texture of materials.
    1. Moving any principal or accessory building onto any lot in the same zone.
    1. Construction of any new principal or accessory building, patio, courtyard, parking lot, swimming pool, basketball court or tennis court.
  1. Changes in exterior appearance also includes changes by removal, such as:
    1. Demolition or partial demolition of any principal or accessory buildings.
    1. Moving any principal or accessory building from the property.
    1. Removal of any building details, including the loss of porches, doorways, windows, steps, decorative trim, shutters, wood siding.
    1. Cutting or removal of trees more than one foot in diameter measured at a height of one foot.  This provision of the ordinance is not meant to hinder or delay the removal of trees which create a danger or a hazard to life or property.

Does the HARC control repainting of existing structures?

No, the jurisdiction of the HARC does not apply in instances where the only desired change is the repainting of an exiting building.  However, if the color of paint is to be changed or you wish to paint an unpainted surface, then the owner must obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness. 

What is the HARC’s jurisdiction over changes in paint colors?

The HARC regulates changes in paint colors and a Certificate of  Zoning Compliance is required.  The historical integrity of newly chosen paint colors are considered.  Reference materials are available in the Planning Department to help you choose and understand paint colors and painting schemes that are “period” appropriate to the neighborhood.

What part of a structure falls under the HARC’s jurisduiction?

Any changes to a structure’s exterior appearance fall under the HARC’s jurisdiction.  This is normally defined as the front, sides, and rear of a building.  NOTE: HARC also has jurisdiction over rear alterations or additions or construction in backyards

Does the HARC control ordinary maintenance of a building?

No, as long as the maintenance does not change the exterior appearance of a building.  Ordinary maintenance is described as any work for which a building permit is not required by law.  Where the purpose and effect of such work is to correct any deterioration, decay or damage of a structure and to restore the structure to its condition prior to the occurrence of such deterioration, decay or damage.  The repairs must maintain the same style, color and materials of the original item. Examples of ordinary maintenance would be to replace rotted wood porch flooring or broken window panes.

Does the HARC have jurisdiction over interior restoration work and decoration?

Absolutely not.  Property owners are free to do any interior work as long as it does not affect the exterior appearance of a building.

Does new landscaping need to be reviewed?

Ordinary landscaping with plant material does not need to be reviewed.  The introduction of non-permanent landscaping elements such as statuary, birdbaths, pools, benches also do not need to be reviewed.

The addition of permanent elements in the front, rear, or sides of a property, such as fencing, gates, gazebos, and driveways, does need to be reviewed and requires a Certificate of Zoning Compliance.

What is the first step in going through the HARC process?

The first step is to pick up a HARC application from the Planning Department at City Hall and to fill out an application.

Is it a complicated application?

No, it is only a two-page application that can be filled out in a matter of minutes.  It is important to completely fill out the application and provide all the necessary supporting evidence including name, application and phone number.

What else should I include with my application?

It is helpful to include current photographs of the property mounted on paper with notations describing proposed work.  Samples of all colors and materials to be used should also be included.

For new construction or additions, you should also include a site plan showing existing buildings and proposed new construction.  Building elevations are also needed for new construction.

What happens after I turn in my application?

If the application is filled out properly and all necessary support evidence is provided, the zoning administrator will schedule it on the agenda of the next HARC meeting.

The application must be received 10 days before the HARC meeting date before noon to be placed on a meeting agenda.  This is to meet the required time limit for placing a legal notice in the newspaper.

When and where does the HARC meet?

The HARC meets in the City Commission room on the second floor of the City Hall on the second Monday of each month at 5:30 PM.

Is there any expense connected to the HARC process?


What happens at a HARC meeting?

HARC members are always provided with a copy of the application before a meeting for their review.

At the hearing, and applicant is given the opportunity to speak and explain the contents of the application.  Audience members are also given the opportunity to speak.  The HARC members may ask questions also.

At the end of the discussion period, the HARC members vote on whether or not to approve the granting of a Certificate of Zoning Compliance.  The HARC attorney is present at the meeting to advise the board. 

The following day, a Certificate of Zoning Compliance and a Certificate of Land Use Restriction is written.  Copies are sent to the Inspection Department and the original Certificate of Land Use Restriction is recorded at the McCracken County Courthouse.

On what basis does HARC make its decision?

All HARC decisions are based on the U.S. Department of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.  These are common sense guidelines designed to help property owners make plans for the rehabilitation, preservation and continued use of older buildings.  They are used across the country to ensure that proper rehabilitation guidelines are followed when older buildings are restored  The HARC also considers whether or not the proposed action is appropriate to the architectural styles of buildings prevalent in Paducah between 1830, 1910 and the mid 1920’s.

What happens if my application is approved?

The Certificate of  Zoning Compliance will be forwarded to the Inspection Department where a building permit can be issued.  The applicant must obtain a building permit before work can begin.  At some future time, an inspection will be made to ensure that work follows the description approved by the HARC.

What happens if my application is denied?

The applicant is encouraged to submit a new application that meets the Standards for Rehabilitation, the Paducah Code of Ordinances, and/or the Fountain Avenue Neighborhood Design Guidelines.

What if I don’t want to submit a new application?

Any person aggrieved by any action of the HARC may appeal the decision to the Circuit Court in the manner prescribed for appeals from actions of Board of Adjustments (KRS 100.261).

What if I proceed with my project without going through the HARC review?

The City of Paducah’s Inspection office cannot issue a building permit without a Certificate of Zoning Compliance.

If work proceeds without a building permit or a Certificate of Zoning Compliance, the City of Paducah will issue a work stoppage order.  Anyone ignoring a work stoppage order can be fined and any work that has taken place can be ordered to be undone.

What if I see work taking place in the neighborhood that has not been reviewed by HARC?

All violations should be reported to the City of Paducah’s Inspection Office at 444-8527.  An important part of the enforcement process depends on the cooperation of local citizens.


The nature of the Application and exhibits which should be filed depends on whether the improvement is MAJOR or MINOR.                

  • Construction of new building or structure.
  • Construction of additions.
  • Change of structure’s architectural style.
  • Alteration of roof line.
  • Anything which HARC staff determines to be major.

MINOR improvements shall include:

  • Addition or deletion of awnings, shutters, canopies, etc.
  • Addition of exterior material of a new type, color or texture.
  • Anything which HARC staff determines to be minor.


            All applications must be signed by the applicant, and if applicant is leasing or renting the premises, co-signed by the owner of the property.  It is recommended all Applications for both MAJOR and MINOR improvements be accompanied by the following:           

  • Current photography of the property showing its present condition.
  • Physical samples of all materials, items or devices to be installed accurately showing color, texture and scale. 

In addition, with respect to MAJOR improvements, the following exhibits are recommended:

  • Layout or site plan of the property showing all existing and proposed improvements.
  • Elevations drawn to scale of all sides showing complete architectural details and all exterior equipment, and appurtenances located on the roof, walls and ground.  All existing and proposed materials and finishes shall be identified, noted on the elevation, and keyed to photographs.

HARC meets regularly on the second Monday of each month.  The deadline for applications is 10 days prior on a Friday before noon.

SAMPLE HARC Application Certificate of Zoning Compliance

(Please Print or Type)

                                         (Application InstructionsPage 3)


For Office Use Only

Pre-App Conf _____________

Application Received:

Public Hearing ____________

8 Required Copies    

Fee       ____$0.00      

Required Exhibits   ________


Historical and Architectural Review Commission

Paducah City Hall

P.O. Box 2267

Paducah, KY 42002-2267

Application for Hearing

Name of Applicant  ____________________________________________________

Mailing Address  ______________________________________________________

City, State & Zip Code  _________________________________________________

Telephone Number  ______________________

Location of Property (include street address)  ________________________________


  Owner              Leasee              Tenant

General description of each modification ____________________________________






Do all drawings, materials and samples along with other items required by HARC guidelines accompany this application? (see directions on page 3) _________________ _____________________________________________________________________

If not, explain  _________________________________________________________




Is there an application relevant to this property and the subject modifications or improvements pending or contemplated before the City Planning Commission or City Commission?  _________________________________________________________

If so, specify  __________________________________________________________


Is there any approval pending any other regulatory or administrative authority which may have a bearing on the modifications or improvements which are the subject of this application such as a correction notice from the Department of Inspection? __________

If so, specify  __________________________________________________________


It is understood that notices of the public hearing hereon will be published in a daily newspaper as required by law, and that the cost of these notices shall be borne by the applicant.  By signing and submitting the signed application, the applicant is granting permission for relevant city staff and the HARC Board permission to inspect the exterior of the structure and the surrounding property.  Failing to provide the required elements listed in the application and on the application instructions may result in a delay of the hearing for all or part of your application.  The Planning Department reserves the right to not process incomplete applications.  If permission is granted by the HARC Board to make improvements, a building permit is still required from the Department of Inspection before any of the improvements take place.