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 Historic Overlay Zoning Questions & Answers
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DesignationUse | Alterations | Tax Exemption

Historic Designation
How are historic landmarks designated in Round Rock?  
Who approves historic "overlay" zoning?  
Will I get a plaque?  
Do I have to open my house to the public?  
Are there local, state or federal grants or loans available for renovations? 
Will historic overlay zoning decrease my property’s value?  
Will I have difficulty selling my property?  
What if I want to demolish my property?  

Property Use 
Will I be required to do anything to my property? What can't I do to it? 
Will I have to alter the building to comply with the American Disabilities Act?  
Will this change my current zoning? 
Can I lease out my house? 
Will I have difficulty selling my property? 

Alterations to Historic Properties 
Is the inside of my property regulated? 
Can I renovate my property? 
Will my yard be affected? 
Will my storage shed (or other out-buildings) be affected? 
Will my pets be affected?
Will I have to alter the building to comply with the American Disabilities Act? 
Will designation interfere with public infrastructure and utilities? 
What if I want to demolish my property? 

Historic Tax Exemption 
Do historic properties get a tax break? 
Will historic overlay zoning cause my taxes to increase? 
Are there local, state or federal grants or loans available for renovations? 
Won’t Round Rock lose tax revenue because of tax breaks for historic properties? 
Will historic overlay zoning decrease my property’s value? 
Will I have difficulty selling my property?  
Can I lease out my house?  


How are historic landmarks designated in Round Rock?
Round Rock designates local historic landmarks by applying Historic overlay zoning in addition to the property’s standard zoning district (base zoning). Properties must meet certain criteria to be considered for a local historic designation.  Back to top

Who approves historic overlay zoning? 
The Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) reviews requests for designation and evaluates it according to criteria given in the Zoning ordinance.  Since historic landmarks are designated through zoning, the HPC’s recommendation is also reviewed by the Planning & Zoning Commission and approved by the City CouncilBack to top

Will I get a plaque?
At this time the City of Round Rock does not provide markers for historic properties.  Properties designated by the Texas Historical Commission or that are on the National Register of Historic Places are eligible for markers from those organizations, usually purchased by the owner. Back to top

Do I have to open my house to the public?  
No.  In the past there have been historic open house tours, but participation was strictly voluntary.  Back to top

Are there local, state or federal grants or loans available for renovations?  
Round Rock offers assistance in the form of the 75% property tax abatement to encourage historically appropriate restoration and maintenance.  Any exterior additions or renovations must be approved by the HPC before building permits can be issued, and must be consistent with the Design Guidelines for Historic Commercial and Residential Properties and Districts.  Please refer to our webpage on making changes to historic properties.
      At the federal level, the National Park Service and Internal Revenue Service, in partnership with the Texas Historical Commission, offer tax incentives to encourage restoration.  Back to top

Will historic overlay zoning decrease my property's value? 
No. The value of a designated historic structure usually increases because many buyers appreciate historic properties (and anticipate a tax break). The designation can spur re-investment and often increases property values in an entire neighborhood.  Back to top

Will I still have difficulty selling my house?  
No, a historic structure which is kept in good condition often commands a higher price in the real estate market.  Many people will pay a premium for the prestige of owning an older historic home.  Back to top

What if I want to demolish my property?  
Owners of all properties in the City must obtain a demolition permit from the building inspector before demolishing any part of a structure.  Historic properties must also first obtain approval from the HPC, which may delay the demolition permit for up to 120 while other options are evaluated.  Back to top

Will I be required to do anything to my property? What can’t I do to it?  
It is not necessary to have HPC approval for any interior alterations, or for normal repairs that do not affect the exterior appearance of the house (such as repainting the same color or re-roofing with the same material). 
      Any changes to the exterior, however (especially additions or demolition), require prior approval from the HPC before applying for any building permits.  Guidelines are given in Design Guidelines for Historic Commercial and Residential Properties and Districts, which are based on the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic PropertiesBack to top

Will I have to alter the building to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act? 
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not apply to structures used for residential purposes.  The act applies only to structures used for commercial purposes, regardless of the property’s historical status.  Non-residential uses in all commercially zoned areas must comply with the American Disabilities Act (ADA), which has special provisions for historic structures.   Back to top

Will this change my current base zoning? 
No. Base zoning specifies the permitted uses of a property (commercial, office, residential, etc.) and some basic size and parking requirements.  All historic properties will keep their current base zoning and are still subject to relevant ordinances. The purpose of the designation is to preserve historic and architectural structures; not to control the use of the structure or property.  Back to top

Can I lease out my house? 
Yes. Any previous legal use of the property permitted under its base zoning district is still allowed.  Back to top

Is the inside of my property regulated?  
No. The interior design, interior renovation and use of a designated structure are not affected by historic overlay zoning.  Back to top

Can I renovate my property?  
The HPC encourages historically appropriate restoration!  One of the purposes of the historic tax exemption is to encourage appropriate restoration and maintenance of historic properties.  However, any changes to the exterior (especially additions), must be approved by the HPC before obtaining any building permits, in order to verify that proposed changes are historically appropriate.  Guidelines are given in Design Guidelines for Historic Commercial and Residential Properties and Districts
      It is not necessary to have HPC approval for any interior alterations, or for normal repairs that do not affect the exterior appearance of the house (such as repainting the same color or re-roofing with the same material).  Please refer to our webpage on making changes to historic propertiesBack to top

Will my yard be affected?  
Yes, landscaping may be subject to HPC review.  The addition of any structural elements, such as fencing, lighting, and hardscaping must be approved prior to commencing installation.  Plantings and softscape do not need to be reviewed by the HPC.  Back to top

Will my storage shed (or other out-buildings) be affected?  
Existing permanent accessory structures are not required to meet historic design standards.  Any new additions or renovations, however, must be approved by the HPC and be consistent with the Design Guidelines for Historic Commercial and Residential Properties and DistrictsBack to top

Will my pets be affected?  
No, restrictions on animals within the City limits are not changed due to historic overlay zoning, and are subject to the same regulations everywhere in the city.  Back to top

Will designation interfere with public infrastructure and utilities?  
No, maintenance and improvements of public facilities (streets, sidewalks, street lights, utilities, etc.) are not affected by the historical status of adjacent properties.  Back to top

Do historic properties get a tax break?  
Yes.  The historically significant parts of properties with historic overlay zoning or within a historic district (and some others) are eligible to apply for a 75% exemption of City of Round Rock property taxes.  The exemption does not apply to county, school district, etc. taxes.
       The exemption is an incentive to fix up and maintain the exterior of historic structures.  Properties are inspected for maintenance each year to ensure that they are meeting the maintenance requirements for the exemption.  For eligibility criteria, application instructions and other information about the program, please refer to the historic tax exemption program page.  Back to top

Will historic overlay zoning cause my taxes to increase?  
No.  While the value of the property may increase due to rehabilitation or increased market interest, the owner is eligible to apply for a 75% reduction of Round Rock property taxes.  This tax exemption offsets any tax increase due to a higher appraised value.  Back to top

Won’t Round Rock lose tax revenue because of tax breaks for historic properties?  
Although in the short term there is a slight decrease in revenue due to the tax abatement, in the long term historic designation tends to increase the value of the surrounding area.  Historic preservation in commercial areas helps improve retail conditions (and sales taxes), and cities with well-preserved historic areas are often more attractive to major employers.  There is also a non-monetary benefit in neighborhood revitalization, the preservation of local history and a charm and character often lacking in new construction.  Back to top


More questions? 
Contact Senior Planner Joelle Jordan in the Planning Department at 512-218-5422 for any questions about historic preservation and historic overlay zoning. 



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