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Demolition Delay By-Law
The Historical Commission administers specific statutes that protect historic properties, such as the Demolition Delay By-Law.
ARTICLE 31: DEMOLITION OF HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT BUILDINGS OR STRUCTURES
SECTION 1 - INTENT AND PURPOSE
This By-Law is adopted for the purpose of protecting the historic and aesthetic qualities of the Town by preserving, rehabilitating or restoring whenever possible, buildings or structures which constitute or reflect distinctive features of the architectural or historic resources of the Town, thereby promoting the public welfare and preserving the cultural heritage of the Town.
SECTION 2 - DEFINITIONS
For the purposes of this By-Law the following words and phrases have the following meanings:
Commission - The Hingham Historical Commission
Commission Staff – The person(s) regularly providing staff services for the Commission whom the Commission has designated as “commission staff” for the purposes of this By-Law.
Commissioner – The person occupying the office of Hingham Building Commissioner or otherwise authorized in the Town of Hingham to issue permits under the Massachusetts State Building Code.
Demolition – The act of pulling down, destroying, removing, razing or commencing the work of any destruction of a regulated building or structure as defined in Section 3 of this By-Law, or any portion thereof, excluding modifications to the interior of the building or structure having no effect on the exterior thereof. Without limiting the foregoing, demolition includes the act of removal or replacement of any historic architectural element of any regulated building or structure for which a building permit is required from the Commissioner including, but not limited to, the frame, finish, window(s), roofing, chimney(s), siding, or any other architectural feature affecting the exterior of a regulated building or structure.
Permit - A permit issued by the Commissioner for any Demolition (as defined in this By-Law). A Permit, as this term is used in this By-Law, shall include a building permit for Demolition activities as defined above and/or a permit for demolition issued by the Commissioner pursuant to the Massachusetts State Building Code.
Historically Significant – a determination by the Commission that a Regulated Building or Structure is:
(1) importantly associated with one or more historic persons or events, or with the architectural, cultural, political, economic or social history of the Town, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or the United States of America; or
(2) historically or architecturally important by reason of period, style, method of building construction or association with a particular architect or builder, either by itself or in the context of a group of buildings or structures.
SECTION 3 - REGULATED BUILDINGS AND STRUCTURES
The provisions of this By-Law shall apply only to the following buildings or structures (and the architectural elements thereof) which shall be known for purposes of this bylaw as “Regulated Buildings or Structures”:
(1) a building or structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places or the State Register of Historic Places, or the subject of a pending application for listings on either of said Registers; or
(2) a building or structure located within 200 feet of the boundary line of any federal, state or local historic district; or
(3) a building or structure included in the Inventory of the Historic and Prehistoric Assets of the Commonwealth, the Hingham Comprehensive Inventory of the historic, architectural and archeological assets of the Town or designated by the Commission for inclusion in either of said Inventories. Notwithstanding the preceding sentence, the provisions of this section shall not apply to any building or structure located in a local historic district and subject to regulation under the provisions of Chapter 40C of the Massachusetts General Laws.
SECTION 4 - PROCEDURE
A. The Commissioner shall forward a copy of each Permit application for a Regulated Building or Structure to the Commission within seven (7) days after the filing of such application. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in this Article 31, the procedure set forth in this Section 4 shall not apply, and the Commissioner may issue a Permit, if the Commissioner determines that: (a) the proposed Demolition is part of a project which includes the repair or renovation of the structure in question, and (b) the appearance of the structure subsequent to the completion of the Demolition and related repair or renovation from the street(s) abutting the property upon which the structure is located shall be substantially the same as its appearance prior to such Demolition.
B. Within thirty (30) days after its receipt of such application, the Commission shall determine whether the Regulated 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 Commission may, by a majority vote of the Commission, delegate the determination of whether a Regulated Building or Structure is Historically Significant to Commission Staff or to a designated Commission member. In the event that the Commission delegates the determination to the Commission Staff or to a designated Commission member, the Commission shall adopt criteria to be followed by the Commission Staff or such member in making the determination. A determination by the Commission Staff or by a Commission member pursuant to such delegation shall be deemed a determination by the Commission.
C. If the Commission determines that the Regulated Building or Structure is not Historically Significant, it shall so notify the Commissioner and the applicant in writing and the Commissioner may issue a Permit. If the Commission determines that the Regulated Building or Structure is Historically Significant, it shall notify the Commissioner and the applicant in writing that a demolition plan review must be made prior to the issuance of a Permit. If the Commission fails to notify the Commissioner and the applicant of its determination within thirty (30) days after its receipt of the application, then the Regulated Building or Structure shall be deemed not Historically Significant and the Commissioner may issue a Permit.
D. Within sixty (60) days after the applicant is notified that the Commission has determined that a Regulated Building or Structure is Historically Significant, the applicant for the permit shall submit to the Commission ten (10) copies of a demolition plan which shall include the following information: (i) a map showing the location of the Regulated Building or Structure or architectural element(s) thereof to be demolished with reference to lot lines and to neighboring buildings and structures: (ii) photographs of all street facade elevations; (iii) a description of the Regulated Building or Structure or architectural element(s) thereof to be demolished; (iv) the reason for the proposed Demolition and data supporting said reason, including, where applicable, data sufficient to establish any economic justification for Demolition; and (v) a brief description of the proposed reuse of the parcel on which the Regulated Building or Structure is located.
E. The Commission shall hold a public hearing with respect to the application for a Permit, and shall give public notice of the time, place and purposes thereof at least fourteen (14) days before said hearing in such manner as it may determine, and by mailing, postage prepaid, a copy of said notice to the applicant, to the owners of all adjoining property and other property deemed by the Commission to be materially affected thereby as they appear on the most recent real estate tax list of the board of assessors, to the planning board, to any person filing written request for notice of hearings, such request to be renewed yearly in December, and to such other persons as the Commission shall deem entitled to notice. Within sixty (60) days after its receipt of the demolition plan, the Commission shall file a written report with the Commissioner on the demolition plan which shall include the following: (i) a description of the age, architectural style, historic association and importance of the Regulated Building or Structure or architectural element(s) thereof to be demolished; and (ii) a determination as to whether or not the Regulated Building or Structure or any architectural element thereof should preferably be preserved. The Commission shall determine that a Regulated Building or Structure or architectural element thereof should preferably be preserved only if it finds that the Regulated Building or Structure or architectural element(s) thereof is Historically Significant because it is important to the Town’s historical and/or architectural resources and is in the public interest to preserve, rehabilitate or restore.
F. If, following the demolition plan review, the Commission does not determine that the Regulated Building or Structure and/or architectural element(s) thereof to be demolished should preferably be preserved, or if the Commission fails to file a report with the Commissioner within the time limit set out in subparagraph (E) next above, then the Commissioner may issue a Permit.
G. If, following the demolition plan review, the Commission determines that the Regulated Building or Structure and/or architectural element(s) thereof to be demolished should preferably be preserved, then the Commissioner shall not issue a Permit for a period of six (6) months from the date of the filing of the Commission's report unless the Commission informs the Commissioner prior to the expiration of such six (6) month period that it is satisfied that the applicant for the Permit has made a bona fide, reasonable and unsuccessful effort to locate a purchaser for the Regulated Building or Structure who is willing to preserve, rehabilitate or restore the Regulated Building or Structure, or has agreed to accept a Permit on specified conditions approved by the Commission.
H. Any material change to the plans filed and approved by the Commissioner and the Commission that (i) pursuant to the Massachusetts State Building Code, requires the permit holder to file for a modification, (ii) occurs subsequent to the issuance of a Permit previously approved by the Commission, and (iii) affects the exterior of a Regulated Building or Structure or architectural element thereof, must be reviewed by the Commission. The applicant shall submit plans detailing the requested changes to the Commission and the Commissioner. The Commission shall issue a written report to the Commissioner within 30 days of receipt of such plans. Such report shall either approve the requested changes and authorize the issuance of a Permit pursuant to the revised plans or shall deny the proposed changes. The changes shall be deemed approved if such report is not received by the Commissioner within said thirty (30) day period. If the proposed changes are not approved, the applicant may proceed with the work as authorized under the original Permit or the work as described in the revised plans will be subject to Section 4.G above.
SECTION 5 - EMERGENCY DEMOLITION
If the condition of a Regulated Building or Structure poses a serious and imminent threat to the public health or safety due to its deteriorated condition, the owner of such Regulated Building or Structure may request the issuance of an emergency Permit from the Commissioner. As soon as practicable after the receipt of such a request, the Commissioner shall arrange to have the property inspected by a board consisting of the Commissioner, the Chairmen of the Commission and the Board of Health, and the Chief of the Fire Department, or their respective designees. After the inspection of the Regulated Building or Structure and consulting with this board, the Commissioner shall determine whether the condition of the Regulated Building or Structure represents a serious or imminent threat to public health or safety and whether there is any reasonable alternative to the immediate Demolition of the Regulated Building or Structure which would protect the public health and safety. If the Commissioner finds that the condition of the Regulated Building or Structure poses a serious and imminent threat to public health or safety, and that there is no reasonable alternative to the immediate Demolition thereof, the Commissioner may issue an emergency Permit to the owner of the Regulated Building or Structure. Whenever the Commissioner issues an emergency Permit, under the provisions of this section 5, the Commissioner shall prepare a written report describing the condition of the Regulated Building or Structure and the basis for the decision to issue an emergency Permit with the Commission. Nothing in this section 5 shall be inconsistent with the procedures for the demolition and/or securing of buildings and structures established by Chapter 143, Sections 6-10, of the Massachusetts General Laws. In the event that a Board of Survey is convened under the provisions of Section 8 of said Chapter 143 with regard to any Regulated Building or Structure, the Commissioner shall request the Chairman of the Commission or his designee to accompany that Board of Survey during its inspection. A copy of the written report prepared as a result of such inspection shall be filed with the Commission.
SECTION 6 - NON-COMPLIANCE
A. The Commission may request that the Board of Selectmen institute any and all actions or proceedings, in law or equity as the selectmen may deem necessary and appropriate to obtain compliance with the requirements of this By-Law or to prevent a threatened violation thereof.
B. Anyone who engages in Demolition in violation of this By-Law may be subject to a fine of not more than three hundred ($300) dollars. Each day the violation exists shall constitute a separate offense until a faithful restoration of the demolished Regulated Building or Structure or architectural element is completed or unless otherwise agreed to by the Commission.
C. No building permit shall be issued with respect to any premises upon which Demolition has occurred in violation of this By-Law for a period of three (3) years after the date of such violation. As used herein, "premises" refers to the parcel of land upon which the Regulated Building or Structure (or architectural element thereof) was located and all adjoining parcels of land under common ownership or control.
D. 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 three (3) year period, authorize the Commissioner in writing to issue a Permit upon such conditions as the Commission deems necessary or appropriate to effectuate the purposes of this By-Law. Upon issuance of such written authorization by the Commission to the Commissioner, and compliance of the landowner with the conditions, if any, of such authorization, the building permit moratorium set forth in subsection 6.C shall cease, provided that future Permit applications for the premises shall be subject to applicable provisions of this By-Law.
E. Nothing in this Section shall be deemed to exempt a landowner from compliance with any requirements of the State Building Code or prohibit landowners from complying with any requirements of the State Building Code.
SECTION 7 - APPEALS TO SUPERIOR COURT
Any person aggrieved by a determination of the Commission may, within twenty days after the filing of the notice of such determination with the Commissioner, appeal to the superior court for Plymouth County. The court shall hear all pertinent evidence and shall annul the determination of the Commission if it finds the decision of the Commission to be unsupported by the evidence or to exceed the authority of the Commission or may remand the case for further action by the Commission or make such other decree as justice and equity shall require.
SECTION 8 - SEVERABILITY
In case any section, paragraph or part of this By-Law is declared invalid or unconstitutional by any court of competent jurisdiction, every other section, paragraph and part of this By-Law shall continue in full force and effect.