Village of Lancaster, NY
Erie County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Lancaster 5-27-1986 by L.L. No. 1-1986 (Ch. 92 of the 1976 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Building construction — See Ch. 104.
Moving of buildings — See Ch. 108.
Unsafe buildings — See Ch. 115.
Fire prevention — See Ch. 156.
Subdivision of land — See Ch. 301.
Zoning — See Ch. 350.

§ 184-1 Purpose.

It is hereby declared as a matter of public policy that the protection, enhancement and perpetuation of landmarks and historic districts is necessary to promote the economic, cultural, educational and general welfare of the public. Inasmuch as the identity of a people is founded on its past, and inasmuch as Lancaster has many significant historic, architectural and cultural resources which constitute its heritage, this chapter is intended to:
A. 
Protect and enhance the landmarks and historic districts which represent distinctive elements of Lancaster's historic, architectural and cultural heritage.
B. 
Foster civic pride in the accomplishments of the past.
C. 
Protect and enhance Lancaster's attractiveness to visitors and the support and stimulus to the economy thereby provided.
D. 
Ensure the harmonious, orderly and efficient growth and development of the Village.

§ 184-2 Historic Preservation Commission.

[Amended 2-25-2008 by L.L. No. 1-2008]
There is hereby created a Commission to be known as the "Village of Lancaster Historic Preservation Commission."
A. 
The Commission shall consist of seven members and three designated alternates to be appointed, to the extent available in the community, by the Mayor as follows:
(1) 
At least one shall be an architect.
(2) 
At least one shall be an historian.
(3) 
At least one shall be a licensed real estate sales person.
(4) 
At least one shall be an attorney.
(5) 
At least one shall be a resident of an historic district.
(6) 
At least one shall be a local teacher/administrator.
(7) 
At least one shall have demonstrated significant interest in and commitment to the field of historic preservation evidenced either by involvement in a local historic preservation group, employment or volunteer activity in the field of historic preservation or other serious interest in the field.
(8) 
All members shall have a known interest in historic preservation and architectural development within the Village of Lancaster.
B. 
Commission members shall serve for a term of four years, with the exception of the initial term of one of the seven members, which shall be one year, one which shall be two years, and one which shall be three years. The term of office of the designated alternates shall be four years. However, the term of office of the original designated alternates shall be the balance of the official year.
C. 
The Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Commission shall be elected by and from among the members of the Commission.
D. 
The powers of the Commission shall include:
(1) 
Employment of staff and professional consultants as necessary to carry out the duties of the Commission.
(2) 
Promulgation of rules and regulations as necessary for the conduct of its business.
(3) 
Adoption of criteria for the identification of significant historic, architectural and cultural landmarks and for the delineation of historic districts.
(4) 
Conduct of surveys of significant historic, architectural and cultural landmarks and historic districts within the Village.
(5) 
Designation of identified structures or resources as landmarks and historic districts.
(6) 
Acceptance on behalf of the Village government of the donation of facade easements and development rights and the making of recommendations to the Village government concerning the acquisition of facade easements or other interests in real property as necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter.
(7) 
Increasing public awareness of the value of historic, cultural and architectural preservation by developing and participating in public education programs.
(8) 
Making recommendations to Village government concerning the utilization of state, federal or private funds to promote the preservation of landmarks and historic districts within the Village.
(9) 
Recommending acquisition of a landmark structure by the Village government where its preservation is essential to the purposes of this chapter and where private preservation is not feasible.
(10) 
Approval or disapproval of applications for certificates of appropriateness pursuant to this chapter.
E. 
The Commission shall meet at least monthly, but meetings may be held at any time on the written request of any two of the Commission members or on the call of the Chairman or the Mayor.
F. 
A quorum for the transaction of business shall consist of four of the Commission's members, but not less than a majority of the full authorized membership may grant or deny a certificate of appropriateness.
G. 
Designated alternates. The Mayor shall at the time of appointment of each of the three designated alternates identify each designated alternate as "First," "Second," or "Third" designated alternate. In the event that one or more of the seven members or designated alternates of the Historic Preservation Commission are unable to attend an official proceeding of the Historic Preservation Commission, designated alternates shall, in the ascending numerical order in which they are designated, participate as members as necessary to attain participation of up to seven individuals during such official proceeding. When participating as members, pursuant to this provision, designated alternates shall be considered Commission members for purposes of construing and applying the provisions of Subsection F above.

§ 184-3 Designation of landmarks and historic districts.

A. 
The Commission may designate an individual property as a landmark if it:
(1) 
Possesses special character or historic or aesthetic interest or value as part of the cultural, political, economic or social history of the locality, region, state or nation; or
(2) 
Is identified with historic personages; or
(3) 
Embodies the distinguishing characteristics of an architectural style; or
(4) 
Is the work of a designer whose work has significantly influenced an age; or
(5) 
Because of a unique location or singular physical characteristic, represents an established and familiar visual feature of the neighborhood.
B. 
Historic districts.
(1) 
The Commission may designate a group of properties as an historic district if they:
(a) 
Contain properties which meet one or more of the criteria for designation of a landmark.
(b) 
By reason of possessing such qualities, they constitute a district section of the Village.
(2) 
The boundaries of each historic district designated henceforth shall be specified in detail and shall be filed, in writing, in the Village Clerk's office for public inspection.
C. 
Notice of a proposed designation shall be sent by registered mail to the owner of the property proposed for designation, describing the property proposed and announcing a public hearing by the Commission to consider the designation. Where the proposed designation involves so many owners that individual notice is not feasible, notice may instead be published at least once in a newspaper of general circulation at least 10 days prior to the date of the public hearing. Once the Commission has issued notice of a proposed designation, no building permits shall be issued by the Building Inspector until the Commission has made its decision.
D. 
The Commission shall hold a public hearing prior to designation of any landmark or historic district. The Commission, owners and any interested parties may present testimony or documentary evidence at the hearing which will become part of a record regarding the historic, architectural or cultural importance of the proposed landmark or historic district. The record may also contain staff reports, public comments or other evidence offered outside of the hearing.
E. 
The Commission shall forward notice of each property designated as a landmark and of the boundaries of each designated historic district to the office of the Erie County Clerk for recordation.

§ 184-4 Certificate of appropriateness required.

[Amended 4-25-2011 by L.L. No. 4-2011; 6-24-2013 by L.L. No. 3-2013; 3-23-2015 by L.L. No. 2-2015]
No person shall carry out any exterior alteration, restoration, reconstruction, demolition, new construction or moving of a landmark or property within a historic district, nor shall any person make any material change in the appearance of such a property, its light fixtures, signs (excluding portable signs), sidewalks, fences, steps, paving, exterior windows (including the application of paint or other opaque covering for a duration exceeding two weeks) or other exterior elements visible from a public street or alley which affects the appearance and cohesiveness of the historic district, without first obtaining a certificate of appropriateness from the Historic Preservation Commission. The effective term of a certificate of appropriateness shall be limited to one year from the date of issuance. Thereafter, an application for a certificate of appropriateness must be renewed.

§ 184-5 Application fee for certificate of appropriateness.

[Added 11-14-2016 by L.L. No. 8-2016[1]]
The nonrefundable fee to be submitted with each application for a certificate of appropriateness shall be $25, payable to the Village of Lancaster.
[1]
Editor's Note: This local law also provided for the renumbering of the subsequent sections of this chapter.

§ 184-6 Criteria for certificate of appropriateness.

A. 
In passing upon an application for a certificate of appropriateness, the Historic Preservation Commission shall not consider changes to interior spaces, unless they are open to the public, or to architectural features that are not visible from a public street or alley. The Commission's decision shall be based upon the following principles:
(1) 
Properties which contribute to the character of the historic district shall be retained, with their historic features altered as little as possible.
(2) 
Any alteration of existing properties shall be compatible with its historic character, as well as with the surrounding district.
(3) 
New construction shall be compatible with the district in which it is located.
B. 
In applying the principle of compatibility, the Commission shall consider the following factors:
(1) 
The general design, character and appropriateness to the property of the proposed alteration or new construction.
(2) 
The scale of proposed alteration or new construction in relation to the property itself, surrounding properties and the neighborhood.
(3) 
Texture, materials and color and their relation to similar features of other properties in the neighborhood.
(4) 
Visual compatibility with surrounding properties, including proportion of the property's front facade, proportion and arrangement of windows and other openings within the facade, roof shape and the rhythm of spacing of properties on streets, including setback.
(5) 
The importance of historic, architectural or other features to the significance of the property.

§ 184-7 Procedure for certificate of appropriateness.

A. 
Prior to the commencement of any work requiring a certificate of appropriateness, the owner shall file an application for such a certificate with the Historic Preservation Commission. The application shall contain:
(1) 
The name, address and telephone number of the applicant.
(2) 
The location and photographs of the property.
(3) 
Elevation drawings of proposed changes, if available.
(4) 
Perspective drawings, including relationships to adjacent properties, if available.
(5) 
Samples of color or materials to be used.
(6) 
Where the proposal includes signs or lettering, a scale drawing showing the type of lettering to be used, all dimensions and colors, a description of materials to be used, the method of illumination and a plan showing the sign's location on the property.
(7) 
Any other information which the Commission may deem necessary in order to visualize the proposed work.
B. 
No building permit shall be issued for such proposed work until a certificate of appropriateness has first been issued by the Historic Preservation Commission. The expiration of the effective term of a certificate of appropriateness as provided at § 184-4 of this chapter shall not negate the validity of a building permit issued during the effective term of the certificate of appropriateness. The certificate of appropriateness required by this chapter shall be in addition to and not in lieu of any building permit that may be required by any other ordinance of the Village of Lancaster.
[Amended 4-25-2011 by L.L. No. 4-2011]
C. 
At regularly scheduled meetings of the Commission, the Commission shall consider those applications for a certificate of appropriateness which have been submitted to the Village Clerk not later than two weeks prior to said regularly scheduled meeting. Within 30 days of said regularly scheduled meeting, the Commission shall approve, deny or approve with modifications each application considered. Within 30 days of said regularly scheduled meeting, the Commission may hold a public hearing on the application at which an opportunity will be provided for proponents and opponents of the application to present their views.
[Amended 2-9-2015 by L.L. No. 1-2015]
D. 
Commission decisions; appeals.
(1) 
All decisions of the Commission shall be in writing. A copy shall be sent to the applicant by registered mail, and a copy shall be filed with the Village Clerk's office for public inspection.
(2) 
The Commission's decision shall state the reasons for denying or modifying any application.
(3) 
In all instances, the decision shall advise the applicant that, pursuant to § 184-13 of the Historic Districts and Landmarks Chapter of the Code of the Village of Lancaster, any person aggrieved by the decision of the Historic Preservation Commission relating to a certificate of appropriateness application may, within 15 days of the decision of the Historic Preservation Commission, deliver a notice of appeal to the Clerk of the Village of Lancaster for review of the decision of the Historic Preservation Commission by the Village Board of Trustees; that the notice of appeal shall identify the applicant, property location and date of decision; and that further particulars regarding the appellate process are set forth at § 184-13 of the Code of the Village of Lancaster.
[Added 8-22-2011 by L.L. No. 10-2011]
(4) 
If the decision relates to property designated as a landmark, the decision shall also advise the applicant that, pursuant to § 184-9 of the Historic Districts and Landmarks Chapter of the Code of the Village of Lancaster, an applicant whose certificate of appropriateness has been denied may apply to the Historic Preservation Commission for relief from landmark designation on the grounds that the landmark designation is working a hardship upon him or her.
[Amended 8-22-2011 by L.L. No. 10-2011]

§ 184-8 Hardship criteria.

An applicant whose certificate of appropriateness has been denied may apply for relief from landmark designation on the grounds that designation is working a hardship upon him. In order to prove the existence of hardship, the applicant shall establish that:
A. 
The property is incapable of earning a reasonable return, regardless of whether that return represents the most profitable return possible.
B. 
The property cannot be adapted for any other use, whether by the current owner or by a purchaser, which would result in a reasonable return.
C. 
Efforts to find a purchaser interested in acquiring the property and preserving it have failed.

§ 184-9 Hardship application procedure.

A. 
After receiving written notification from the Commission of the denial of a certificate of appropriateness, an applicant may commence the hardship process. No building permit or demolition permit shall be issued unless the Commission makes a finding that a hardship exists.
B. 
The Commission may hold a public hearing on the hardship application at which an opportunity will be provided for proponents and opponents of the application to present their views.
C. 
The applicant shall consult in good faith with the Commission, local preservation groups and interested parties in a diligent effort to seek an alternative that will result in preservation of the property.
D. 
Commission decisions; appeals.
(1) 
All decisions of the Commission shall be in writing. A copy shall be sent to the applicant by registered mail and a copy filed with the Village Clerk's office for public inspection.
(2) 
The Commission's decision shall state the reasons for granting or denying the hardship application.
(3) 
The decision shall advise the applicant that, pursuant to § 184-13 of this chapter of the Code of the Village of Lancaster, any person aggrieved by the decision of the Historic Preservation Commission relating to a hardship application may, within 15 days of the decision of the Historic Preservation Commission, deliver a notice of appeal to the Clerk of the Village of Lancaster for review of the decision of the Historic Preservation Commission by the Village Board of Trustees; that the notice of appeal shall identify the applicant, property location and date of decision; and that further particulars regarding the appellate process are set forth at § 184-13 of the Code of the Village of Lancaster.
[Added 8-22-2011 by L.L. No. 10-2011]

§ 184-10 Enforcement.

All work performed pursuant to a certificate of appropriateness issued under this chapter shall conform to any requirements included therein. It shall be the duty of the Building Code Enforcement Officer to inspect periodically any such work to assure compliance. In the event that work is found that is not being performed in accordance with the certificate of appropriateness, or upon notification of such fact by the Historic Preservation Commission, the Building Code Enforcement Officer shall issue a stop-work order and all work shall immediately cease. No further work shall be undertaken on the project as long as a stop-work order is in effect.

§ 184-11 Maintenance and repair required.

A. 
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prevent the ordinary maintenance and repair of any exterior architectural feature of a landmark or property within an historic district which does not involve a change in design, material, color or outward appearance.
B. 
No owner or person with an interest in real property designated as a landmark or included within an historic district shall permit the property to fall into a serious state of disrepair so as to result in the deterioration of any exterior architectural feature which would, in the judgment of the Historic Preservation Commission, produce a detrimental effect upon the character of the historic district as a whole or the life and character of the property itself. Examples of such deterioration include:
(1) 
Deterioration of exterior walls or other vertical supports.
(2) 
Deterioration of roofs or other horizontal members.
(3) 
Deterioration of exterior chimneys.
(4) 
Deterioration or crumbling of exterior stucco or mortar.
(5) 
Ineffective waterproofing of exterior walls, roofs or foundations, including broken windows or doors.
(6) 
Deterioration of any feature so as to create a hazardous condition which could lead to the claim that demolition is necessary for the public safety.

§ 184-12 Penalties for offenses; civil remedies.

A. 
Failure to comply with any of the provisions of this chapter shall be deemed a violation, and the violator shall be liable to a fine up to $250 after the party has been cited, as well as a fine of $50 for each day the violation continues after the violator has been cited.
B. 
Any person who demolishes, alters, constructs or permits a designated property to fall into a serious state of disrepair in violation of this chapter shall be required to restore the property and its site to its appearance prior to the violation. Any action to enforce this subsection shall be brought by the Village Attorney. This civil remedy shall be in addition to, and not in lieu of, any criminal prosecution and penalty.

§ 184-13 Appeals.

[Amended 4-25-2011 by L.L. No. 5-2011; 8-22-2011 by L.L. No. 10-2011]
A. 
Any person aggrieved by the decision of the Historic Preservation Commission relating to hardship relief or a certificate of appropriateness may, within 15 days of the decision, deliver to the Village Clerk a written notice of appeal that the decision of the Historic Preservation Commission be reviewed by the Village Board of Trustees. The notice of appeal shall identify the applicant, property location and date of decision.
B. 
Upon receipt of a notice of appeal, the Village Clerk shall advise the Village Board and the Chairman of the Historic Preservation Commission of the appeal. The Village Board of Trustees shall then schedule a hearing with respect to the appeal, to be conducted not sooner than 30 days nor later than 60 days following the Village Clerk's receipt of the notice of appeal. The hearing may be conducted during a meeting or special meeting. The Village Clerk shall promptly provide notice to the Chairman of the Historic Preservation Commission and to the applicant of the date and time of the meeting during which the appeal will be heard.
C. 
The Chairman of the Historic Preservation Commission shall arrange that, not later than seven days prior to the hearing date, all pertinent documents, exhibits and minutes relating to the record that was before the Historic Preservation Commission, together with a copy of the decision of the Historic Preservation Commission, shall be delivered to the Village Clerk, who shall then promptly disseminate such materials to members of the Village Board.
D. 
At the time of the hearing, the applicant, individually and/or by legal counsel, and a designated representative of the Historic Preservation Commission shall be entitled to be heard.
E. 
Review of the decision by the Village Board shall be conducted based on the same record that was before the Historic Preservation Commission and using the same criteria. The standard of review to be applied by the Village Board of Trustees shall be whether the proceedings before the Historic Preservation Commission were conducted properly and in accordance with this chapter and whether the discretion exercised by the Historic Preservation Commission deviated materially from what would be reasonable.