What is the ARB?
North End Huntington Heights is a historic district recognized on the City, State, and National levels. As such, it has been granted a special zoning overlay by the City of Newport News which is governed by an Architectural Review Board and administered by Codes Compliance. Its purpose is to ensure the historic residential character of the area is maintained. There are currently two such districts in the city, the other being Hilton Village to the North.
The Architectural Review Board is an independent entity sanctioned by the City of Newport News and separate from NEHHPA – the North End Huntington Heights Preservation Association whose site you are currently viewing. Obviously the goals of both entities compliment one another though operate independently and through different channels. The ARB meets on the first Thursday of the month in the City Council Conference Room, 2400 Washington Avenue (City Hall), 10th Floor.
NEHH Architectural Review Board’s official website:
Why have an ARB?
There has been a great deal of misunderstanding about the purpose and practice of the ARB over the years. Contrary to popular belief, the ARB does not dictate paint colors, restrict reasonable construction, or has anything to do with interior decorating. To illustrate why the ARB exists, consider the flowing photos.
In an area with a dense treasure trove of noteworthy historic architecture in more or less it’s original form, it only takes one “extreme makeover” to permanently alter the character of a whole block and eventually the entire neighborhood. After some such projects on the South end of town did exactly that, the Architectural Review Board was created to deter this domino effect and preserve the neighborhood’s architectural identity – and property values along with it.
Guidelines & Applications
To help understand the procedures and project requirements of the ARB, there are a published set of guidelines that are periodically reviewed and updated as needed. It may seem like quite a read at first but you will find it is separated be topic and fairly easy to navigate. Both the City representatives and ARB board members (your neighbors!) are quick to assist with questions.
Current ARB guidelines can be downloaded in PDF here:
The basic procedure is as follows. First determine whether or not the proposed project requires a Certificate of Appropriateness from the ARB. Qualifying projects are defined in the guidelines linked above. The guidelines also have an application form that needs to be filled out and sent in or dropped off with any supplemental paperwork no less than 10 business days in advance of the next meeting to the following address: Department of Planning and Development, Newport News City Hall, 2nd Floor, 2400 Washington Avenue.
The application can be downloaded as a PDF here:
If you have any questions about the application process or the required paperwork, call the Department of Planning at (757) 926-8761 or David Watson directly at (757) 926-3833.
To get an idea of the type of projects brought before the ARB in recent history and the board’s subsequent decisions, you can review the meeting minutes.
ARB meeting minutes:
Again, NEHHPA is a separate entity from the Architectural Review Board. This page is to provide residents valuable information about the ARBs purpose and direct them to the appropriate outlets. We do not handle applications, render decisions, or influence the board on business brought before them.