In Abingdon, we have an architectural review board for development in the historic area. It has become an increasing controversial government agency, particularly with regard to the development of the Barter green property. The ARB proceedings seem to have been something of a success in terms of good government, since they had the courage to say no at least initially to the Barter Foundation, causing the Foundation to compromise on the initial excesses of its proposals. (My wife laughs when I start shouting and cursing at the newspaper over the grandiose pronouncements of the Barter's director Richard Rose, which often put me into a rage when I read them, and then she laughs at me even more when I smile and say hi to Mr. Rose when we see him on our way into the theater -- but I digress.)
This article talks about the ARB in the Town of Warrenton (which has a very nice Old Town area), and the limits of its authority - particularly, whether the ARB can regulate what building materials are used.