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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.

If you would like to discuss a project with a Preservation Planner you can visit the Development Services Center or our office at 3000 Granny White Pike (Sevier Park) between 7:30 a.m and 4:00 p.m.

Preservation & 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 for DADUs)

Preservation Permit Application-Signage

Guidance for Setback Determination - The MHZC 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 be held at 2:00 p.m. in the Sonny West Conference Center/ Metro Campus. PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING MEETING LOCATION CHANGES: The July 17 and August 21 meetings will be in the Bransford Board Room at 2601 Bransford Avenue.

Application Deadline Meeting Date, 2 p.m.
December 31, 2018, noon* January 16, 2019
February 4, 2019, noon February 20, 2019
March 4, 2019, noon March 20, 2019
April 1, 2019, noon April 17, 2019
April 29, 2019, noon May 15, 2019
June 3, 2019, noon June 19, 2019
July 1, 2019, noon July 17, 2019
August 5, 2019, noon August 21, 2019
August 30, 2019, noon* September 18, 2019
September 30, 2019, noon October 16, 2019
November 4, 2019, noon November 20, 2019
December 2, 2019, noon December 18, 2019

* 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 MHZC

Contact the MHZC at (615) 862-7970 or to confirm whether or not the MHZC needs to review your project; and if so, to make an appointment to meet with the staff.

The staff will meet with you and your contractor or architect/designer at your property to discuss the project, answer any questions, and advise you on whether the plans meet the design guidelines. The staff can assist in making your plans meet the guidelines and can offer design suggestions.

In order for the MHZC to determine whether a proposed project complies with the design guidelines, all applications must be accompanied by complete site plans, 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 regular zoning and building code regulations -- applicable whether or not your property is in a conservation zoning district.

3. MHZC 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 by the MHZC.

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 MHZC staff.

4. Permitting Process

The MHZC 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 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 MHZC 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 MHZC decisions may be taken to a court of competent jurisdiction as provided for by law.

Points to Remember

Free technical and design assistance is available from the staff of the MHZC at any time before or during the application process. Early consultation with MHZC staff is recommended. Appointments are helpful in providing the best possible service.

The MHZC only reviews exterior plans which are visible from the public-rights-of-way. Interiors are not reviewed.

Deadlines are firm. To allow for writing of recommendations, mailing packets, Commissioners review of a proposal, and to meet state and local laws for meeting notices, all necessary materials must be received sixteen days prior to the hearing.

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.

The MHZC maintains a library of materials on architectural history, restoration techniques, and products for rehabilitation which is available to the public. Staff frequently provides 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 Landmark Guidelines are a legal document. Work done without prior review and approval by the MHZC is subject to penalties.

The MHZC staff regularly monitors the historic landmark districts 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 MHZC. Once the owner or his/her representative contacts the MHZC, 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.