Media Borough is fortunate to be a community of diverse housing structures and styles built over time and maintained with thoughtful consideration for historical preservation. The oldest structures in Media date back to the 18th century and are tucked in between stately brick or stone Victorians, arts and crafts bungalows, ranch homes, Cape Cod homes, apartment housing and newer homes. A lively downtown district and convenient access to transportation make Media a very desirable place to live!
The Historic Architectural Review Board was formed by Borough Council to act as both a resource and review body. Among its responsibilities is to educate the citizens of Media on the value of historic preservation, and the good practices and methodologies for the treatment of historic structures. HARB members have relevant professional backgrounds that qualify them for advising historic property owners. The Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB) makes recommendations to the Council regarding the advisability of issuing any Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) required for buildings that are located within the historic districts in Media. The HARB will give its advice, counsel and opinion, in writing, to the Council within 30 days after receiving a COA for review.
Dave Urffer, Chairperson of the Historic Architectural Review Board, is an architect by trade. Both he and his wife, also an architect, serve on the HARB. Dave and his family moved to the borough 19 years ago and live in a historic home built in the mid 1800’s. He views his work with HARB as a great outlet for his creativity, as his professional architectural work is mostly commercial. “The HARB,” he states, “is a valuable resource for property owners within the borough. The goal of the board is to work with people so that their construction projects that require COAs work within their budgets, and blend historically and culturally with the buildings surrounding them.”
Although Media has many properties that can be considered historic, only ones “officially” designated as such by the Media Borough Council are protected by local law in one of two ways: by being located within one of three Historic Districts (via Ordinance No. 638B which is shown as Chapter 183 of the Borough Code) OR by being included within the Historic Resources Overlay District (via Ordinance No. 1051).
It’s important for property owners to know the difference between the two designations. Properties designated as historic in the Overlay District are listed individually and scattered throughout the Borough. The overlay ordinance only regulates the demolition of historic resources.
Historic Districts, on the other hand, protect a group of usually contiguous historic properties within certain boundaries. The Historic District ordinance not only regulates demolitions, but also changes to the historic appearance – including alterations and additions – of properties within the districts, which can be seen from any public way.
Currently, Media has three historic districts: the Courthouse Square District, the Providence Friends Meetinghouse District, and the Lemon Street District. (The Borough Council has the ability to add more historic districts in the future.)
The HARB has published Design Guidelines, which are applicable to the Historic District ordinance because it empowers Borough Council to “determine whether or not the erection of new buildings or structures on the site, or the reconstruction, alteration, restoration, demolition or razing of a building, whole or in part, shall have an adverse effect upon the general historic and architectural features which can be seen from a public way only.” The purposes and specifics of the Guidelines are explained in greater detail in the Design Guidelines.
Property owners, especially those who are in a designated Historic District or Historic Overlay District, are encouraged to reach out to the Historical Architecture Review Board prior to beginning any type of rehabilitation, restoration, addition or demolition to the exterior of a structure. They should also contact the Borough Building Inspector (contact 610.566.5210 or jim_ email@example.com) for an application for a Certificate of Appropriateness, on which the proposed work will be described.
Most importantly, property owners should also keep in mind that the HARB exists as a resource for questions related to historic renovations or restorations. As a team of professionals, they are a great source of information and can provide resources for historic property owners during renovations.
For a more detailed list of Design Guidelines and Procedures for Obtaining a Certificate of Appropriateness, please read the Design Guidelines here provided by the HARB.