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Demolition Delay Bylaw
DEMOLITION OF HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT PROPERTIES

The Norfolk Historical Commission (NHC) would like to state that the Demolition Delay Bylaw can not stop any property owner from exercising their rights. It does however introduce a review process that will give the commission time to explore other options such as restoration, sale or moving of the building, in whole or in part, as an alternative to total demolition of a significant or historic building. If other options can not be implemented, the demolition can not be prohibited.

The NHC developed the bylaw after consulting with The Massachusetts Historical Commission and with officials in several surrounding towns in the Norfolk area. The bylaw is modeled on already existing Massachusetts demolition delay bylaws.
The bylaw will impose the review process on only older buildings. The vast majority of these review processes will be completed prior to the established six month time period - so that home owners will not inconvenienced by the process.

Six months provides sufficient time for the NHC to carefully evaluate each property and to explore a variety of options and alternatives other than demolition.

There are proposed changes at the annual town meeting on in May 2012.


Article XV:  DEMOLITION OF HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT PROPERTIES

SECTION  1.    Intent and Purpose:

This Town Bylaw is enacted for the purpose of protecting the historic and aesthetic qualities of the Town by encouraging the preservation of historically or architecturally significant buildings and structures within the Town, and to encourage owners of such properties to seek out persons who might be willing to purchase, preserve, rehabilitate or restore such buildings or structures rather than demolish them, and to allow an appropriate historical record of such buildings and structures to be created.

SECTION  2.   Definitions:

Building- A fixed combination of any materials, having a roof, common walls and passageway areas, and forming a structure for the shelter of persons, animals or property.

Commission- The Norfolk Historical Commission

Demolition- Any act of pulling down, destroying, removing or razing a building or structure, or commencing the work of total or substantial destruction with the intent of completing the same.

Significant Building or Structure- - (a) Any building or structure listed on the National Register or eligible for National Register listing. (b) Any building or structure researched and found by the Commission to be historically significant, or architecturally significant in terms of construction, or by association with an important architect, builder, person or event.

Structure – Any combination of materials assembled, constructed, erected or maintained at a fixed location and placed permanently in or on the ground.

SECTION  3.   Procedure:

a. Within seven (7) days of receipt of an application for a demolition permit for a building or structure which is Seventy-five (75) years or older, the Building Commissioner shall forward a copy of this application to the Commission. No demolition permit should be issued at that time, and no demolition may occur. The application shall include all current Field Cards from the Board of Assessors for the subject property, as well as a description of the demolition intended, including a list of all structures or portions thereof to be demolished.
b. Within fourteen (14) days from the Commission's receipt of a complete demolition permit application, the Commission shall determine whether the structure is historically or architecturally significant. If the Commission determines the building or structure is not considered significant, the Commission shall so notify the Building Commissioner in writing and the Building Commissioner may issue a demolition permit. If the building or structure is determined to be significant, the Commission shall so notify the owner and the Building Commissioner in writing, and the Building Commissioner shall not issue a demolition permit for a period of six (6) months from the date of the application, unless the Commission informs the Building Commissioner prior to the expiration of said six (6) months that the applicant for the demolition has made a reasonable but unsuccessful effort to locate a purchaser for the building or structure, or one who is willing to preserve, rehabilitate or restore the building or structure, or has agreed to accept a demolition permit on specified conditions approved by the Commission. If the Commission does not determine that the building or structure is considered significant within 14 days of the Historical Commission’s receipt of a complete demolition permit application, the Building Commissioner may issue a demolition permit.
c. Determination of Applicability
An owner of a building or structure may petition the Historical Commission for a determination of applicability of the bylaw.  Within sixty (60) days after the receipt of such application, the Commission shall determine whether the building or structure is historically significant.  The applicant for the permit shall be entitled to make a presentation to the Commission if he or she makes a timely request in writing to the Commission.  The determination by the Commission of whether a regulated building or structure is historically significant shall be made in writing signed by the Commission and shall be binding on the Commission for a period of 3 years from the date thereof.

SECTION  4.   Emergency Demolition:

Nothing in this bylaw shall restrict the Building Commissioner from immediately ordering the demolition of any building or structure in the event of an imminent danger to the safety of the public.

SECTION  5.   Enforcement and Remedies:

a. The Building Commissioner and/or the Commission, as well as the Town, are authorized to institute any and all actions and proceedings, in law or equity, as they may deem necessary and appropriate to obtain compliance with the requirements of this bylaw or to prevent a threatened violation thereof.

b. No building permit shall be issued with respect to any premises upon which a building seventy-five (75) years or older has been voluntarily demolished with disregard for the provisions of the bylaw, for a period of three (3) years after the date of the cessation of such demolition. As used herein, "premises" refers to the land contained within the parcel upon which the demolished building or structure was located and the land contained within all adjoining parcels under common ownership or control, whether subdivided or re-divided.

c. No permit for the erection of a new structure on the site of an existing building determined to be a preferably-preserved significant building or structure may be issued prior to issuance of a permit for demolition of such existing buildings.

SECTION  6.   Appeal:

Appeals from decisions or determinations of the Historical Commission or Building Commissioner following a formal Public Hearing may be made by the applicant(s) or the abutter(s) to the courts under the certiorari statute, G.L. c. 249, Section 4.

SECTION  7.   Severability:

In case any section, paragraph or part of this bylaw for any reason is declared invalid or unconstitutional by any court, every other section, paragraph and part shall continue in full force and effect.


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Appendix
These were the changes and/or additions to the bylaw made from original proposal prior to passage.

Section 1
Add the following definition.

"Structure-Any combination of materials assembled, constructed, erected or maintained at a fixed location and placed permanently or temporarily in or on the ground."

Explanation
The Advisory Board recommended the inclusion of a definition of the word "structure". Only "structures" 75 years or older would fall within the purview of this bylaw.

Section 3 a and 5 b
Change the reference of "fifty (50) years" to "seventy-five (75) years".

Section 3 b
Change both references of "twelve (12) months" to "six (6) months".

Section 3 c
Add the following section to the bylaw

Determination of Applicability
An owner of a building or structure may petition the Historical Commission for a determination of applicability of the bylaw. Within sixty (60) days after the receipt of such application, the Commission shall determine whether the building or structure is historically significant. The applicant for the permit shall be entitled to make a presentation to the Commission if he or she makes a timely request in writing to the Commission. The determination by the Commission of whether a regulated building or structure is historically significant shall be made in writing signed by the Commission and shall be binding on the Commission for a period of 3 years from the date thereof.

Explanation
The Advisory Board recommended the inclusion of a way for an owner to obtain a determination from the Historical Commission of whether or not their building or structure would be considered historically significant relative to the bylaw - at any time - not just at the time of an application for a demolition permit.
Add this section to the bylaw as Section 3c.




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