Here is a link to the Department of Historic Resources website:
Of particular interest, to me at least, is the FAQ:
I found this entry really interesting:
"Some friends live in a historic district, and they tell me that they have to get permission from a board to repair their porch or paint their house. Will I have officials looking over my shoulder if I register my house? No. Only locally designated historic districts are subject to local zoning ordinances and procedures. Sometimes, a property or district may be listed at the national, state, and local levels but it is only the local designation that places restrictions on private owners."
So the actual registration of a property does not mean that the owner will be subject to restrictions on what they can do with their property. Those restrictions are left to local governments, who are organized under a Certified Local Government (CLG) program. More info here:
This makes sense in terms of the differences between varying Architectural Review Boards.
I have a lot of questions with regard to accountability, the public's role in setting these CLGs up, and citizen aproval processes, if any.
There's a local DHR office right in Roanoke. It would be interesting to pay them a visit and get a detailed overview.