How The Process Works

First step for anyone planning to build anything, anywhere in Bay St. Louis:

  • Talk to the city’s Zoning Administrator, Charlene Black  (City Hall building, 688 Hwy 90, Bay St. Louis, direct line – 228.469-0531).  Her job is to streamline the building process.
  • First, she’ll make sure that your proposed project complies with city zoning requirements. If you’re not in zoning compliance, Charlene will assist you in applying for the proper variances. If you’re in compliance and outside the historic district, you will then proceed to the Building Department for a permit application.

If your property is located in the historic district:

  • You’ll also need a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) in addition to the Building Permit.  To get a COA, you’ll submit an application and construction documents to be reviewed by the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC).
  • To avoid delay, please download our sample information sheets below, so you’ll know the level of information the HPC needs to see before a decision can be made.  If there’s not enough information submitted, your application may be put aside until the next meeting.   Basically, the HPC needs the same level of info that you’ll need to get a building permit.

Elevation Drawings


  • You’ll submit the application and the construction documents to Charlene, who is also the city’s HPC Liaison.  There’s no fee for this.  You’ll be added to the agenda for the next HPC meeting. You can download the application form and construction document checklist here or get them at City Hall.
  • In the meantime, you can also submit your construction plans to the Building Department along with your Building Permit application.  The Building Department will began review of the plans to help speed the process, but plans will not be approved before they receive proof of zoning compliance and a Certificate of Appropriateness (if the property is located in the Historic District).  

Changes that require a historic review are things like home additions, new roofing, fencing and porches.  General maintenance projects like painting generally do NOT require a review or permit of any kind.  If you have questions about your project, Charlene will be able to guide you.

The HPC is made up of volunteer citizens who are interested in historic preservation – like architects, contractors, real estate professionals, and folks who love our historic neighborhood.

The HPC meeting agenda allows everyone an opportunity to talk about their project.  Commission members may ask questions or make suggestions.  They will have copies of all relevant documents to review.  The tone of the meetings is neighborly, and many times applicants receive free time and money-saving design and/or construction guidance from commission members.

After discussion, the Commission will vote to recommend or deny approval of a project.  At times, they’ll vote to issue a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) with stipulations.  They can also give a conceptual approval when looking at preliminary plans.  This lets property owners know they’re headed in the right direction.  When plans are complete, they’ll appear before the HPC again to apply for a final COA.

Commission members do NOT vote based on their personal taste.  They refer to Design Guidelines to make decisions and suggestions.  You can download a copy on our Resources page.

If the property owner takes issue with the decision of the HPC, they may appeal the decision to the city council within ten days of the decision.  The Bay St. Louis HPC appeal rate is extremely low – on average, less than two appeals per year are made – around 1%.  

After filing for an appeal, the property owner then has  60 days to appear before the City Council.  At least one HPC member will attend that meeting to explain the commission’s decision.

If you’d like to appeal, ask city zoning official Charlene Black for a form that will be needed to start the process.