Local Historic District Commission

Clark statue north of Town HallThe Local Historic District Commission was formed on May 21, 2012 (Town Meeting, Article 27), following the guidelines of Chapter 40 Sec. C of the Massachusetts General Bylaw. 

The Commission helps in the preservation and protection of the distinctive characteristics and architecture of buildings and places found within the local historic districts of Amherst.  

The purpose of Local Historic Districts, as defined in the Amherst Historic District Bylaw, is "to aid property owners and the Town of Amherst in the preservation and protection of the distinctive  characteristics and architecture of buildings and places significant in the history of the Town of Amherst….”  

This preservation and protection purpose is achieved by a permitting system that regulates construction and alterations of exterior architectural features that are visible from a public way.   Local Historic District Commission members and Amherst town staff administer this permitting system in accordance with the criteria and procedures set out in the Bylaw and in published regulations, with the goal of minimizing uncertainty, administrative burdens, and delays. 


MemberYear AppointedTerm Expires
Steven Bloom20222026
Vacancy - (Architect)

Nicole Miller (Real Estate Rep)20222025
Greta Wilcox20192025
Karin Winter20192025
Nancy Ratner, Chair20222024
Elizabeth Sharpe20232024

*Appointed by Town Manager: 7 members/ 3-year terms
Member responsibilities include:  

  • Review and regulate construction and alterations of any structure of building within the district, with consideration for the distinctive characteristics of each structure, building and landscape.
  • Encourage and support new and innovative building designs and techniques compatible with the existing architecture.
  • Create and amend design guidelines that set forth the designs for certain exterior architectural features that are, in general, suitable for the issuance of a certificate.
  • Undertake educational efforts to explain to the public and property owners the merits and functions of the district.
  • Retain all permanent record of its resolutions, transactions, decisions and determinations.      


1. When a building permit or demolition permit is required, a Local Historic District Certificate is required.

2. When exterior architectural features will be permanently removed even if a building permit is not required, a Local Historic District Certificate is required.


1. Certificate of Non-Applicability - Will be granted in cases that do not involve any exterior architectural feature or that involve exterior architectural features not subject to review by the Commission (e.g., because the feature is not visible from the public way or because they fit one of the exclusions listed on the next page). The Building Commissioner will issue these certificates within 5 days of the filing of the application.

2. Certificate of Appropriateness - Issued when the Commission approves an application after full review, including a hearing. . Decisions to be made within 60 days of the filing of the applications.

3. Certificate of Hardship - Issued when the Commission determines that disapproval of an application would cause substantial hardship, financial or otherwise.

4. Disapproval of an Application - When the Commission determines not to approve an application, it issues a disapproval. In cases of disapproval, the Commission must give the reasons for such disapproval, and it may include in its disapproval specific recommendations for changes in the applicant's proposal with respect to the appropriateness of design, arrangement, texture, material and similar features which, if made and filed with the Commission in a subsequent application, would make the application acceptable to the Commission.


1. Fill out Application Form - Applications can submitted online or on a paper form 

2. Pay Application Fee -  $50 paid online or with a check made out to Town of Amherst

3. Pre-application meeting: Discuss project over the phone or in-person with Town staff. 

4. Submit - Applications can be submitted via email to mullinsj[at]amherstma.gov and bregerb[at]amherstma.gov or in-person on the second floor of Town Hall.