Helping to preserve your neighborhood’s unique character and architectural heritage
About Neighborhood Conservation Districts (NCDs)
A Neighborhood Conservation District (NCD) is a zoning overlay designation. NCDs are used to address the appropriateness of design of new construction, as well as the compatibility of exterior renovations and additions.
The development of Neighborhood Conservation Districts (NCD) in Topeka addresses concerns about the protection of neighbor-hood character for new residential construction and additions.
NCDs identify geographic areas in the con-text of the total street scape and architectural character. Neighborhood-specific design standards ad-dress the character-defining elements of the local identity and may reflect a specific architectural style, or traits and characteristics throughout the neighborhood block.
NCDs are a neighborhood revitalization planning tool that can be used to protect distinct architecture, natural features, and neighbor-hood character.
What are the benefits of NCD designation?
A Neighborhood Conservation District designation protects and strengthens the desirable and unique physical features, design characteristics, and recognized identity, charm and flavor of a neighborhood. It offers a level of “protection” for property values , helping to prevent blight caused by incompatible, insensitive development.
Are There Design Standards Required for NCD Designation?
Yes. One of the most important components of the NCD designation is a set of established design standards. The standards, however, are developed by property owners, unique to each NCD, and determined as part of the a-plication process.
What are design standards?
Required design standards include character-defining elements such as building height, size, massing, principal elevation features, lot size/coverage, parking, set-backs, roof pitch and paving. Optional standards might include features such as building materials, landscaping and natural features, fences/ walls, building orientation, driveway and sidewalk location.
Will the design standards address paint color?
No. Repainting is considered ordinary maintenance and repair, and is not listed as a design standard.
Who decides what design standards are important for my neighborhood?
The property owners located within the NCD determine the unique “character-defining” elements that are important to them.
Do the design standards apply to new construction or rehabilitation of existing properties?
Both. Design standards affect those properties where new construction will occur and rehabilitation projects (beyond ordinary maintenance and repair) that affect the street facade.
If my property is in a NCD, will I have to rehabilitate my property to conform to the design standards?
No. Property owners are not required to rehabilitate their property upon designation. However, if they elect to rehabilitate their property after the NCD designation, they would be required to conform to the NCD standards.
Does a NCD affect my taxes?
Neighborhood character within an NCD will generally maintain a higher level of stability. However, NCD designation does not initiate tax increases.
What if I can’t afford the requirements of the design standards?
The standards are determined by the same property owners who will be using them; therefore, the local aesthetic and economic conditions become part of the determining factors for the design standards. With the exception of specific “character-defining” building materials deter-mined to be unique to the neighborhood, the design standards generally address the broader elements that define the street scape.
Does an NCD affect the use of my property?
Neighborhood Conservation Districts are an “overlay” zoning district. They do not affect the use of property as defined by its primary zoning classification. The underlying base zoning remains intact.
How do I know if my neighborhood is eligible for a NCD?
Generally, the criteria for designation includes:
- A residential neighborhood that contains at least one block face;
- At least 75% presently developed;
- Possesses unique and distinctive characteristics, creating an atmosphere that you want to protect;
- Platted for the past 40 years or longer
Who is able to initiate a NCD?
There are three ways to initiate the process. Property owners may initiate the process through a petition of either:
- Approval by the neighborhood improvement association or other neighborhood association having broad representation and membership, or
- 51% of the property owners within the district, or
- The Topeka City Council or the Topeka Planning Commission.