Avon Hill Neighborhood Conservation District

View of 81 Washington Ave, Cambridge

Welcome to the home page for the Avon Hill Neighborhood Conservation District (NCD) in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Boundaries: The Avon Hill Neighborhood Conservation District contains approximately 220 properties in an area bounded by Linnaean Street, Raymond Street, Upland Road, and the zoning boundary of the BA-2 and C-2 zones along Massachusetts Avenue.

Administration: The district is regulated by the Avon Hill NCD Commission, a group of volunteer Cambridge citizens appointed by the City Manager. Administration of district business is provided by staff members of the Historical Commission, a department of the city government. If you have any questions about the Avon Hill NCD, please e-mail Charlie Sullivan or call the office at 617/349-4683 or TTY at 617/349-6112.

Frequently Downloaded Files:

General Avon Hill Review Procedures:

Both advisory and binding reviews are completed by the CHC staff and Avon Hill NCD Commission depending on the scope of work and location of the property within the district. The review criteria are posted online for further explanation, but please consult CHC staff to initiate the project review process prior to commencement of work. 

Types of Certificates Issued:

  • A Certificate of Non-Applicability will be issued for work done in kind (work which matches existing conditions exactly), interior alterations, alterations not visible from any public way, and any other work which does not require review by the neighborhood conservation district commission. These certificates are generally issued by the Historical Commission staff on-the-spot.
  • A Certificate of Appropriateness will be issued for reviewable alterations which the neighborhood conservation district commission deems not incongruous to the character of the property in question.
  • Occasionally, a Certificate of Hardship will be issued for work which is not otherwise appropriate if the Commission determines that failure to approve an application would entail a substantial hardship, financial or otherwise, and that the work would not be a significant detriment to the district.

One of these certificates is always necessary to obtain a building permit for work in a neighborhood conservation district. All of the Commission's regulatory approvals have a life of six months. This means that the owner of the property has six months, from the date a certificate is issued, to obtain a building permit. Upon written request, the chair of the Commission may issue a six-month extension. If an extension is not issued, the owner must resubmit the Application for Certificate for the Commission's review.