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Preservation Permits

The Metropolitan Historic Zoning Commission (MHZC) issues Preservation Permits for alterations, additions, new construction, demolition, and moving structures within the locally designated historic preservation and neighborhood conservation districts. For more information about which actions require a permit in which district, see Districts and Design Guidelines.

Pursuant to recommendations from federal, state, and local health agencies, we are encouraging electronic communications between staff and applicants. Rough or complete drawings, photographs, and scopes of work can be sent to along with your phone number. This information sometimes tells us everything we need to know to assist you with meeting the design guidelines. In other cases, we will visit the site on our own and follow up with a phone call or email. For requests on sign off on building permits, please contact us at or 615-862-7970. At this point, we will continue to see walk-in customers and will continue to accommodate applications on storm-related properties as expeditiously as possible.

Preservation and Overlay Permit Applications

Complete the application and submit it along with all necessary documentation to explain your project. Elevations and site plans must be to-scale, and no larger than 11" x 17". Application and attachments may be emailed, mailed, or hand-delivered.

Preservation Permit Application - General (infill, additions, outbuildings, alterations, demolition)

Preservation Permit Application-Outbuildings and Detached Accessory Dwelling Units (DADU) (includes restrictive covenant form to be filed with the Register of Deeds and planning worksheet)

Preservation Permit Application-Signage

Guidance for Setback Determination - The Historic Zoning Commission has the ability to reduce the setbacks required by base zoning where there is historic precedence. If your project does not meet the base zoning setback requirements it is your responsibility to notify all adjacent (all properties around the subject property) property owners of the public hearing and the request for a setback reduction at least 7 days prior to the meeting. If notification is not give, the project review will be delayed until the next public hearing.

Economic Hardship - It may be possible to demolish a historic building if there is no reasonable or beneficial use of the property if the building is retained.

Bed and Breakfast Homestay Application - also requires an application for rezoning with the Planning Department

Historic Landmark Application- also requires an application for rezoning with the Planning Department

Helpful Links

Meeting Dates and Deadlines

Regularly scheduled meetings will usually be held at 2 p.m. in the Sonny West Conference Center at Howard Office Building.

Application Deadline, noon Meeting Date, 2 p.m.
November 2, 2020 November 18, 2020
November 30, 2020 December 16, 2020
January 4, 2021 January 20, 2021
February 1, 2021 February 17, 2021
March 1, 2021 March 17, 2021
April 5, 2021 April 21, 2021
May 3, 2021 May 19, 2021
May 28, 2021 June 16, 2021
July 2, 2021 July 21, 2021
August 2, 2021 August 18, 2021
August 30, 2021 September 15, 2021
October 4, 2021 October 20, 2021
November 1, 2021 November 15, 2021
November 29, 2021 December 15, 2021

When the deadline falls on a Metro holiday, the deadline shall be the business day prior.

Obtaining a Preservation Permit

Follow these steps to apply for and obtain a Preservation Permit

Please note that alterations to existing buildings and sites are reviewed when they are part of a larger project, such as a proposal for an addition.

1. Contact the Metro Historic Zoning Commission

Contact us at 615-862-7970 or to confirm whether or not we need to review your project.

If so, staff can provide you and your contractor or architect/designer with general guidance on meeting the design guidelines.  Once drawings are submitted, Staff can provide more detailed guidance.

In order for us to determine whether a proposed project complies with the design guidelines, all applications must be accompanied by complete to-scale site plans, to-scale elevation drawings, specifications and any other appropriate supporting information. When you submit these materials, the staff will determine whether a Preservation Permit can be issued immediately or if the work, like most, requires referral to the full Commission.

2. Permit Applications

Once you have all the necessary information to explain your project, applications should be submitted to:

  • Metropolitan Historic Zoning Commission and
  • Metropolitan Department of Codes Administration

Officials at Codes will review your plans for compliance with base zoning and building code regulations -- applicable whether or not your property is in a conservation zoning district.

3. Our Review Process

Items that may be administratively reviewed and meet the design guidelines, generally receive a permit within two days of receipt of a complete application. Projects such as infill, large additions, and demolition of primary buildings will be scheduled for review with the Commission.

Regular meetings of the Commission are scheduled for the third Wednesday of every month.

If your project requires a change to the setbacks required by base zoning, it will be your responsibility to notify all adjacent property owners. This means notifying all properties on each side of the subject property, behind it, and across the street. For a sample letter and additional information, please contact our staff.

4. Permitting Process

Our staff will issue a Preservation Permit upon approval of the application by the Commission.

The Preservation Permit should be provided to the Building Department for completion of the Building Permit process. Projects on Metro owned or leased property must also go through an ADA review. For more information please visit ADA Compliance. Permit fees (amount charged depends on the type and value of the work done) will be charged to you then. For permits to remain valid, work must begin within six months of the date of issue.

NOTE: Subject work done without a preservation permit is in violation of the Historic Zoning Regulations established under Chapter 17.36.110, Historic overlay districts established, of the Code of Laws of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County. Like the Building Code, these Design Guidelines are a legal document. Work done without prior review and approval by the Metro Historic Zoning Commission is subject to fines and other penalties. Appeals to decisions of the Historic Zoning Commission staff can be made to the Commission; appeals to decisions of the Commission can be taken to a court of competent jurisdiction as provided for by law.


Appeals of administrative decisions may be made to the Metro Historic Zoning Commission and appeals of the Commission's decisions may be taken to a court of competent jurisdiction as provided for by law.

Points to Remember

Feedback on meeting the design guidelines is available from our staff at any time before or during the application process. Early consultation with our staff is recommended. Providing even rough drawings or photographs via email is the fastest way to receive feedback.

We only review exterior plans. Interiors are not reviewed, except for Historic Landmark-Interior overlays.

Deadlines are firm. To allow for writing of recommendations and the Commissioner's advance review of the proposal, and to meet state and local laws for meeting notices, all necessary materials must be received sixteen days prior to the hearing.  If the deadline falls on a Metro holiday the deadline shall be noon, the business day prior.

Historic zoning does not force a property owner to work on, repair, or maintain their building; it responds to projects initiated by the owner.

Like the building code requirements, work done in violation of the design guidelines is required to be corrected and can be subject to fines. The review process does not prevent change but guides change so that it is appropriate for the individual building and district.

We maintain a library of materials on architectural history, restoration techniques, and products for rehabilitation which is available to the public. Upon request, Staff can provide recommendations to property owners for aspects of restoration which are not reviewed by historic zoning.


Work done without a preservation permit, or contrary to the specification on a preservation permit, is a violation of the Landmark Regulations established under Section 17.36, Overlay Districts, in Title 17 of the Metropolitan Code of Laws, the Zoning Ordinance of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County.

Like the Building Code, the Guidelines are a legal document. Work done without prior review and approval by the commission is subject to penalties.

Our staff regularly monitors the historic overlays for compliance with the regulations. In addition, staff members frequently receive notice from area residents of possible violations. When a violation is discovered, staff determines the most appropriate course of action. Typically, the following steps are taken to reach compliance:

  • If the work is still underway, a Stop Work Order is posted.
  • A violation notice is mailed to the property owner. The notice cites the infraction and identifies a deadline for contacting the commission. Once the owner or his/her representative contacts us, staff provides information on how to abate the violation; a deadline is established for reaching compliance.
  • If the violation is not abated within the specified time frame, staff issues a citation to appear in Environmental Court.