Historical Architectural Review Board (HARB)

The purpose of the City of York, Historical Architectural Review Board (HARB), is “to regulate the erection, reconstruction, alteration, restoration, demolition or razing of buildings within the (local) historic districts (as designated by York City Council).

HARB is much misunderstood. It is a local historic district, which is separate from the National Register Historic District. (Most residents will have no contact with the National Register district regulations, unless government money, tax credits, or a government agency is involved in their project.) HARB is only an advisory board to City Council – all decisions rendered must receive a majority vote of Council, or they do not stand. Although Council votes in favor of most HARB decisions, Council has overturned HARB in the past, on both major and minor issues.

HARB is composed of 7 regular and 3 alternate members, appointed by City Council. Of those members, 1 member must be recommended by the York County Heritage Trust, 1 member must be a registered architect, 1 member must be a licensed real estate broker and 1 member is the Chief Building Official of the City of York. Four members must be residents of / or property owners in the City of York, and all members must have demonstrated interest or related expertise in historic buildings.

Applications to York’s HARB currently are triggered by an application for a building permit or projects that effect the exterior of buildings within the public way. (Painting of the exterior of your building requires review by the HARB consultant.)

HARB has a paid staff or consultant, who reviews all applications and writes a review of each application for the Board to consider. HARB is constantly trying to streamline its process and many items are now either exempted or are dealt with as “staff reviews” and do not have to come before the HARB Board at all. Furthermore, the consultant is constantly available to advise anyone on what the HARB Board will be looking for from each application.

A brief history: HARBs were authorized in Pennsylvania by the “Historic District Act” dated July 13, 1961. York City Council established York’s HARB by ordinance in 1972 and expanded it in 1975 and again in 2001. The district and all boundary changes to it are approved by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

Meetings: Second and Fourth Thursday’s of each month at 6:00 p.m. in City Council Chambers, 101 South George Street, York, PA.

Article 1731 “Historic York” of the Codified Ordinances in its entirety, please visit the city website: http://www.yorkcity.org/

Other Useful Information:

HARB Application Information

HARB Application

Types of HARB Reviews

HARB District Map

National Reg districts map

The Secretary of the Interior Standards

York Design Guidelines


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