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Historic Preservation Ordinance and Commission

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of Plainfield's historic preservation ordinance?
The purpose of the ordinance is to preserve historic sites and districts that reflect the architectural, cultural, social and economic history of Plainfield, New Jersey. Through its historic preservation program the City seeks to promote its rich heritage, protect valuable historic housing and neighborhoods, encourage the revitalization of commercial areas, foster civic beauty, and strengthen the local economy through renovation and adaptive reuse of the City’s diverse historic resources.
What is the procedure for designation of historic sites and districts in Plainfield?
The Historic Preservation Commission holds the initial hearing to review the nominations. Upon approval by the Commission, the nomination is forwarded to the Planning Board. Owners of nominated sites are notified by certified mail of the Planning Board hearing date. After Planning Board approval, the nomination is sent to City Council for adoption to amend the zoning ordinance.
What are the benefits of historic site designation?
If designated, your historic property will join a distinguished group of over 600 designated historic sites and places in Plainfield. Municipal actions that would affect your property will be reviewed by the Commission, which will act as a “check” against potentially harmful undertakings. Designation also helps to defend your property from threatening county or state government actions, since your property becomes officially recognized as a historic site. Designation will not increase your property taxes. Preservation of historic appearance, however, can increase the re-sale value of your property.
What is the Historic Preservation Commission?
The Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) is part of Plainfield city government and consists of 9 regular members and 2 alternate members who are appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by City Council for four-year terms. Commission members are volunteers who are knowledgeable in local history and building design. The HPC reviews all work that will change the exterior appearance of designated historic sites, including all buildings, garages, carriage houses, gazebos, fences, walls, driveways, sidewalks, signs and parking lots. The review process ensures that the distinctive character of historic sites is preserved.
When Do You Need Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) approval?
A Certificate of Appropriateness issued by the HPC is required before any of the following work on historic sites can commence:

  • Exterior work that requires a building permit.  Examples include roof repair or replacement, porch repair or replacement, new siding, decks, additions, and demolitions.
  • Exterior repairs or replacements such as windows, doors, stairs, and railings.
  • Adding or replacing fences, walls, signs, solar panels, sidewalks, driveways and parking lots.
What Can You Do Without Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) approval?
  • Any work to the interior of your building.
  • Any work that is not visible from a public street.
  • Ordinary maintenance that does not require replacing existing materials.
  • Paint your building.
How does the HPC review proposed work?
In reviewing all applications, the HPC must follow the Plainfield Design Guidelines for Historic Districts and Sites. The guidelines do not impose a particular design or style on the applicant. The intent is to encourage work that is compatible with the historic structure in scale, materials, and related features. Commission members also have expertise in building projects, and can offer practical and cost-effective advice on materials, product sources, and methods of construction.
How can I obtain more information?
In addition to the links on this website, you may contact HPC by email at or by phone at 908-753-3580. The Historic Preservation Commission is under the auspices of the office of Division of Planning and Community Development at Plainfield City Hall.