ARTICLE XXVI: DEMOLITION DELAY
Intent and purpose: The Demolition Delay by-law is enacted for the purpose of preserving and protecting significant buildings within the Town of Weston which are outside Local Historic Districts. Such buildings reflect distinctive features of the architectural, cultural, economic, political or social history of the Town, and their preservation promotes the public welfare by making the Town a more attractive and desirable place to live and work.
The intent of the by-law is not to permanently prevent demolition, but rather, to provide an opportunity to develop preservation solutions for properties threatened with demolition. The by- law is intended to encourage owners and townspeople to seek out persons who might be willing to purchase, preserve, rehabilitate or restore such buildings rather than demolish them, and to limit the detrimental effect of demolition on the historical architectural resources of the Town. To achieve these purposes, the Weston Historical Commission (“the Commission”) is empowered to advise the Building Inspector with respect to the issuance of permits for demolition of significant buildings, and, where appropriate and consistent with the intent and purpose of this by-law, to allow demolition under conditions designed to minimize the loss of distinctive features of significant buildings.
I. “Building” – any combination of materials forming a shelter for persons, animals, or property.
II. “Demolition” – any act of pulling down, destroying, removing, razing or moving a building or any portion thereof, or commencing the work of moving or of total or substantial destruction of a building or portion thereof, with the intent of completing the same;
III. “Significant Building” – any building or portion thereof which in whole or in part was constructed by 1945, or is of unknown age, and which meets one or more of the following three criteria:
A. is listed on, or is within an area listed on, the National Register of Historic Places, or is the subject of a pending application for listing on said National Register; or
B. is included within a “significant area” or “further study area” inventoried or outlined by the Commission in the 1993-1994 Historical Resources Survey; or
C. is documented on a Cultural Resources Inventory form prepared by the Commission;
and, in addition, is determined by vote of the Commission to be of historical or architectural significance by reason of period, style, method or building construction, or by reason of its association with a particular architect, or a builder, or with a person or event of importance to the Town’s history:
IV. “Commission” – the Weston Historical Commission.
V. “Business Day” – any day which is not a legal municipal holiday, Saturday or Sunday.
I. No demolition of a building, or any portion of a building, which was in existence as of January 1, 1945 or which is of an indeterminate age, shall be permitted except in conformity with the provisions of this by-law.
II. Upon receipt of an application for a demolition permit for any building, or portion thereof, which was in existence as of January 1, 1945 or which is of indeterminate age, the Building Inspector shall forward a copy thereof to the Commission within five (5) business days, and shall notify the applicant in writing of this action. No demolition permit shall be issued at that time.
III. Within twenty-one (21) business days of its receipt of a copy of an application for a demolition permit, the Commission shall make an Initial Determination as to the significance of the subject building. The Initial Determination shall be positive if the building, or a portion thereof, meets one or more of criteria (a) through (d) of the above definition of “Significant Building.” Otherwise, the Initial Determination shall be in the negative. The Commission shall notify the applicant of the meeting at which it intends to make its Initial Determination at lease seven (7) days in advance of said meeting, and the applicant shall be given an opportunity to make a presentation to the Commission.
IV. The Commission shall notify the Building Inspector and the applicant in writing within ten (10) business days of its Initial Determination. If the Initial Determination is in the negative, or if the Commission fails to notify the Building Inspector of its Initial Determination within the said ten (10) business days, the Building Inspector may, subject to the requirements of the State Building Code and any other applicable law, by-laws, rules and regulations, issue a demolition permit.
V. If the Commission’s Initial Determination is positive, the Commission shall, within thirty (30) days of its Determination, conduct a public hearing to determine whether the Significant Building is preferably preserved; the Commission shall give public notice of said hearing by publishing notice of the time, place, and purpose of the hearing in a newspaper of general circulation in the Town twice, the first notice to be published at least fourteen (14) days before the hearing and the second notice no more than seven (7) days before the hearing, and by mailing a copy of said notice to the applicant, to the owner of the premises on which the Significant Building is located (if other than the applicant) to the owners of all property within three hundred feet of the premises on which the Significant Building is located as appearing on the most recent tax list, and to such other persons as the Commission shall deem entitled to notice.
VI. If, after a public hearing, the Commission determines that demolition of the Significant Building would not be detrimental to the historical or architectural heritage or resources of the Town, the Commission shall so notify the applicant, the owner, if other than the applicant, and the Building Inspector, in writing, within ten (10) business days of such determination. Upon receipt of such notice, or upon the expiration of ten (10) business days from the date of the close of the Commission’s public hearing, without having received any notification from the Commission, the Building Inspector may, subject to the requirements of the State Building Code and any other applicable laws, by-laws, rules and regulations, issue a demolition permit for the subject building.
VII. If, after the public hearing, the Commission determines that demolition of the Significant Building would be detrimental to the historical or architectural heritage or resources of the Town, such building shall be considered to be a preferably preserved building, and the Commission shall so advise the applicant, the owner if other than the applicant, and the Building Inspector, in writing, within (10) business days, and no demolition permit shall be issued until six months after the date of such determination by the Commission.
VIII. During the six-months delay period following the Commission’s determination that a building is to be considered preferably preserved, the Commission shall notify the Massachusetts Historical Commission, the Town Planner, and any other interested party in an effort to obtain assistance in obtaining preservation funding or in finding an adaptive use of the building which will result in its preservation.
IX. Notwithstanding the preceding paragraphs, the Building Inspector may issue a demolition permit for a preferably preserved significant building at any time after receipt of written advice from the Commission to the effect that
i) the Commission is satisfied that there is no reasonable likelihood that either the owner or some other person or group is willing to purchase, preserve, rehabilitate or restore such building, or
ii) the Commission is satisfied that for at least six months the owner has made continuing, bona fide and reasonable efforts to locate a purchaser to preserve, rehabilitate and restore the subject building, and that such efforts have been unsuccessful;
iii) the Commission has determined that the proposed moving or demolition may be conducted in a specified manner so as not to be detrimental to the historical or architectural heritage or resources of the Town.
Responsibilities of the Owner:
Once a Significant Building is determined to be a preferably preserved building, the owner shall be responsible for properly securing the building, if vacant, to the satisfaction of the Building Inspector. Should the owner fail to so secure the building, a subsequent destruction of the building at any time during the six month demolition delay period, which destruction could have been prevented by the required security measures, shall be considered a demolition in violation of this by-law.
Notwithstanding the following provisions, the Building Inspector may issue a demolition permit at any time in the event of imminent and substantial danger to the health or safety of the public due to deteriorating conditions. Prior to doing so, the Building Inspector shall inspect the building and document, in writing, the findings and reasons requiring an emergency demolition, a copy of which shall be forwarded immediately to the Commission. Before allowing emergency demolition, the Building Inspector shall make every effort to inform the Chairperson of the Commission of his intention to allow demolition before he issues a permit for emergency demolition.
No provision of this by-law is intended to conflict with or abridge any obligations or rights conferred by G.L.c.143 regarding removal or demolition of dangerous or abandoned structures. In the event of a conflict, the applicable provisions of Chapter 143 shall control.
Historic Districts Act:
Nothing in this by-law shall be deemed to conflict with the provisions of the Historic Districts Act, Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 40C, with respect to requirements of notice, hearing and issuance by the Commission of a Certificate of Appropriateness, a Certificate of Non- applicability or a Certificate of Hardship prior to demolition of any building in an historic district.
Enforcement and Remedies:
1. Except as provided below, whenever a significant building or any portion thereof has been voluntarily demolished in violation of this by-law, and for a period of two years after the date of completion of such demolition, no building permit shall be issued with respect to any premises upon which such demolition has occurred. As used herein, “premises” includes the parcel of land upon which the demolished significant building was located.
2. Notwithstanding the foregoing, whenever the Commission shall, on its own initiative, or on application of the landowner, determine that earlier reconstruction, restoration or other remediation of any demolition in violation of this by-law better serves the intent and purpose of this by-law, it may, prior to the expiration of said period of two years, but no sooner than six months from the date of completion of any demolition in violation of this by-law, authorize issuance of a building permit, upon such conditions as the Commission deems necessary or appropriate to effectuate the purposes of this by-law, and may so notify the Building Inspector pursuant to Section VIII of this by-law.
If any section, paragraph or part of this by-law for any reason declared invalid or unconstitutional by any court, every other section, paragraph and part shall continue in full force and effect.
(Effective: 8-30-98 amended effective 3-15-2000)