Town of Wells, ME
York County
By using eCode360 you agree to be legally bound by the Terms of Use. If you do not agree to the Terms of Use, please do not use eCode360.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town of Wells 3-8-1985. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Building construction — See Ch. 91.
Floodplain management — See Ch. 116.
Land use — See Ch. 145.

§ 132-1 Authority; purpose; intent.

[Amended 11-7-2000]
This chapter is adopted pursuant to the state's constitutional and statutory home rule authority and in accordance with the state's Growth Management Program, which encourages the identification and preservation of historical resources located in Wells. Its purposes are to protect, enhance and preserve buildings and sites possessing particular historic, cultural or archaeological significance in order to promote the educational, cultural and economic welfare of the residents, property owners and visitors to Wells. To achieve these purposes it is intended that certain areas may be designated as historic districts and sites and certain structures as historic buildings, as to which a set of regulations and review standards will be applied to prevent inappropriate exterior alterations to or demolition of historic buildings. Such a procedure will help to preserve the essential character of the Town of Wells.

§ 132-2 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
AGGRIEVED PARTY
Any participant in proceedings of the Commission in disagreement with any determination of the Commission.
ALTERED
Includes rebuilt, reconstructed, added to, rehabilitated, restored, renovated, moved and demolished.
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS
The formal authorization by the Commission for activities.
CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICER
The duly appointed Code Enforcement Officer of the Town of Wells.
[Amended 11-7-2000]
HISTORIC BUILDING
Any building within the Town of Wells which is, in whole or in part, 50 or more years old and which is being or has been designated by the Historic Preservation Commission of the Town of Wells to be an historical building after a finding by the Commission that a building is historically or architecturally significant (in terms of period, style, method of building construction or association with a famous person, architect or builder) either by itself or in the context of a group of buildings.
HISTORIC DISTRICT
A geographically definable area possessing a significant concentration, linkage or continuity of sites, buildings, structures or objects united by past events or aesthetically by plan or physical development and designated in accordance with the requirements of this chapter as appropriate for historic preservation. Such historic districts may also comprise individual elements separated geographically but linked by association or history.
HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION
A body appointed by the Selectmen of Wells, whose function it is to carry out the provisions of this chapter.
HISTORIC SITE
Any parcel of land of special significance in the history of the Town of Wells and its inhabitants or upon which an historic event has occurred and which has been designated as such by the procedures in this chapter.

§ 132-3 Effect on zoning regulations.

This chapter does not alter the existing land use regulations under Chapter 145, Land Use, which continues to apply to all property regulated by this chapter.

§ 132-4 Creation and organization of Historic Preservation Commission.

A. 
The Wells Historic Preservation Commission shall be comprised of nine voting residents of the Town, as appointed and designated by the Board of Selectmen. One member shall be so designated from the membership of the Historical Society of Wells and Ogunquit.
[Amended 11-2-1993; 4-14-2000]
B. 
The members of the Commission shall serve terms of three years. Initially, two members shall be appointed for one year, three members shall be appointed for two years, and four members shall be appointed for three years. Thereafter, each appointee shall serve a term of three years, except in those instances in which the appointment is made to fill a vacancy in an unexpired term, in which case the appointment shall be for the remainder of the unexpired term. The Board of Selectmen shall act within 60 days to fill a vacancy, including expired terms.
[Amended 4-14-2000]
C. 
Four members constitute a quorum and a tie vote a refusal. A majority vote of the membership of the Commission shall be required for action under this chapter.
D. 
The Commission shall elect a Chairman and Secretary from its membership. The Chairman shall be responsible for the administration of the activities of the Commission, and the Secretary shall be responsible for maintaining complete and accurate records of the activities of the Commission. A Vice Chairman may be named to serve in the absence of the Chairman.
E. 
Whenever possible the Board of Selectmen shall make appointments to the Commission from the legal and architectural design professions and shall strive to make appointments of individuals who are knowledgeable in the field of historic preservation.

§ 132-5 Powers and duties of Commission.

The duties, functions and powers of the Commission shall be to:
A. 
Assist and advise owners of historic buildings on the physical and financial aspects of preservation, renovation, rehabilitation and additions.
B. 
Assist and advise owners in complying with the requirements of this chapter to the extent possible.
C. 
Receive fees and accept grants, appropriations and gifts of money and service and use its financial resources to employ clerical and technical assistance, publish educational materials, conduct surveys of properties or carry out any of its duties.
D. 
Make recommendations for establishing historic houses and historic districts to the appropriate local governing body, according to the procedures listed in §§ 132-7 and 132-9 of this chapter.
E. 
Review all proposed additions, reconstruction, alterations, construction or demolition of the properties designated under the jurisdiction of this chapter.
F. 
Review all proposed National Register nominations for properties within its jurisdiction with the advice and assistance of the local historical society.
G. 
Serve an advisory role to local government officials regarding local, historical and cultural resources and act as a liaison between local government and those persons and organizations concerned with historic preservation.
H. 
Conduct or initiate a continuing survey of local, historic and cultural resources, in accordance with the Maine Historic Preservation Commission guidelines, with the advice and help of the local historical society.
I. 
Work to provide continuing education on historic preservation issues to local citizens with the advice and help of the local historical society.
J. 
Provide the Code Enforcement Officer with a continually updated list of the historic houses and sites under its jurisdiction.
K. 
Provide current lists of historic buildings and sites, to be on file not only with the Code Enforcement Officer but also with the Town Clerk, the Maine State Historic Preservation Commission and the local historical society.

§ 132-6 Qualifications for review.

The historic buildings, sites and historic districts established in accordance with this chapter shall have one or more, or any combination of, the following characteristics and qualifications:
A. 
Structures at which events occur or have occurred that contribute to and are identified with or significantly represent or exemplify the broad cultural, political, economic, military, social or sociological history of the Town of Wells and the nation, including buildings at which visitors may gain insight or see examples, either in particular items or of larger patterns, in the North American heritage.
B. 
Structures associated with historic personages, great ideas and/or ideals.
C. 
Structures embodying examples of architectural types of specimens valuable for study of a period, style or method of building construction, of community organization and living or a notable building representing the work of a master builder, designer or architect.
D. 
Those buildings which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places or which are the subject of pending application for such listing.

§ 132-7 Establishment of historic districts.

A. 
Historic districts shall be established or enlarged by amendment to § 132-8 of this chapter. Such amendments shall be initiated by the local historical society, the Commission itself or by petition by 10 or more residents of the Town of Wells.
B. 
Any application for establishment of an historic district shall be in writing to the Commission and shall include the following, as appropriate:
(1) 
A description of the physical elements, qualities, architectural style, period or historical significance represented by the district, including a consideration of scale, materials, workmanship and spatial qualities, as relevant.
(2) 
A statement of how the district meets the review criteria in § 132-6 of this chapter.
(3) 
A statement on the remaining physical elements which make this area an historic district and a description of building types, architectural styles and the periods represented, as relevant.
(4) 
A justification of the boundaries of the district.
(5) 
A map showing all district structures with the identification of contributing structures or a site map illustrating significant details of a structure.
C. 
Studies and recommendations. Before making its recommendations concerning the proposed establishment of an historic district, the Commission may conduct studies and research on the proposal with the assistance of consultants. The Commission shall forward a draft to the local historical society, to the Planning Board and to the Maine Historic Preservation Commission for review and comment.
D. 
Public hearing.
(1) 
A public hearing shall be held within 60 days of receipt of the application. Written notice of the proposal shall be given to the applicants, owners of all property abutting or to be included within the proposed district and all other persons found by the Commission to have a special interest in the proposal, including the local historical society.
(2) 
Failure of any property owner to receive notice of the hearing shall not necessitate another hearing and shall not invalidate any recommendations made by the Commission.
(3) 
Notice of the hearing shall be included in a newspaper of general circulation at least 10 days prior to the hearing date.
(4) 
Final report. Not later than 30 days after said public hearing, the Commission shall submit a final report with its written recommendations, including the views of affected and interested parties, to the Selectmen.
(5) 
Amendments shall be enacted by Town Meeting in accordance with state and municipal laws to establish historic districts.

§ 132-8 Established districts.

(Reserved)

§ 132-9 Establishment of historic buildings and sites.

A. 
The local historical society, the Commission itself or 10 or more voting residents of the Town of Wells may submit lists of buildings and sites to be included under this chapter as historic buildings and historic sites.
B. 
Any application for the establishment of an historic building or historic site shall be in writing and shall include the following, as appropriate:
(1) 
The written permission of the owners for the establishment of such buildings and sites.
(2) 
A statement of how the building and site meet the review criteria in § 132-6 of this chapter.
(3) 
The location of the proposed historic building and historic site.
C. 
Before making its decision concerning the proposed establishment of historic buildings or historic sites, the Commission may consult studies and research on the proposal with the assistance of consultants. Within 30 days after receipt of the proposed historic building or historic site, the Commission shall notify in writing the Maine State Historic Preservation Commission, the local historical society and the local Planning Board of its decision as to whether the proposed buildings and/or sites meet the requirements of § 132-6 of this chapter. Reasons for its decision must be clearly stated.
D. 
Public hearing.
(1) 
A public hearing shall be held within 60 days of receipt of the application. Written notice of the proposal shall be sent to the applicants, the owners of the property involved, the abutters and all other persons found by the Commission to have a special interest in the proposal, including the local historical society.
(2) 
Failure of any property owner to receive notice of the hearing shall not necessitate another hearing and shall not invalidate any recommendations made by the Commission.
(3) 
Notice of the hearing shall be included in a newspaper of general circulation at least 10 days prior to the hearing date.
(4) 
Final report. Not later than 30 days after the public hearing, the Commission shall make its decision as to whether the proposed historic building or historic site meets the review criteria in § 132-6 of this chapter and shall be established as an historic building or historic site. The Commission's decision is final and binding, and when an historic building or site is established by the Commission, it is subject to the terms of this chapter as it relates to it. Written notice of this final decision shall be sent to the Maine State Historic Preservation Commission, the local historical society, the Planning Board and the owner of the historic building or historic site, and if the request for historic status has been by petition, the final decision shall be sent to the 10 or more signers of the petition.
E. 
A list of the historic buildings and historic sites, as established by the Commission, shall be submitted and continuously updated to the Code Enforcement Officer. Current lists of historic buildings and sites shall be on file not only with the Code Enforcement Officer but also with the Town Clerk, Maine State Historical Preservation Commission and the local historical society. These lists shall be available for review during regular working hours of these individuals and organizations.
F. 
The Historic Preservation Commission shall file an affidavit at the York County Registry of Deeds which includes the following information:
[Added 11-2-1993]
(1) 
A description of the historic building or site;
(2) 
The physical location of the historic building or site;
(3) 
The names of the owners of the property; and
(4) 
The Town of Wells tax map and lot number.

§ 132-10 Improvements not requiring review.

A. 
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prevent the ordinary maintenance or repair of any exterior architectural feature of any building or structure where such repair does not involve a change in design, material or appearance.
B. 
Nothing in this chapter shall restrict impermanent or easily reversible alterations such as storm windows, storm doors, window air conditioners, shutters, paint or signs.
C. 
Only changes proposed by the property owner or lessor are subject to review. Passage of this chapter does not require exterior alterations.
D. 
Nothing in this chapter shall prevent the construction, reconstruction, alteration or demolition of any building or structure where construction is in accordance with a valid building permit issued prior to the adoption of this chapter.

§ 132-11 Required certificates.

A certificate of appropriateness or a certificate of demolition issued by the Historic Preservation Commission is required for:
A. 
A material change in the exterior, with respect to any historic building, by addition, reconstruction, alteration or demolition, whether or not a building permit is required.
B. 
Any change in the boundaries of the district or in the structures or sites within, except those permitted under this chapter, whether or not a building permit is required.

§ 132-12 Standards of review.

A. 
General. The standards and requirements contained in this section and in the United States Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitation shall be used, when applicable, in review of applications for certificates of appropriateness for additions, alterations, renovations and demolition and shall be available in the Town Clerk's office.
[Amended 11-7-2000]
B. 
Reconstruction, renovation and alterations.
(1) 
A structure classified as an historic building, site or a building located in a designated historic district or an appurtenance related to such structures, buildings or sites, including but not limited to walls, fences, light fixtures, steps, paving, signs and natural features, shall not be altered, and no certificate of appropriateness shall be issued for such actions unless those actions will preserve or enhance the historical and architectural character of the building.
(2) 
All distinguishing qualities of an historic building, site or district shall be maintained to the fullest extent practicable. When removal is unavoidable, replacement with similar features shall be encouraged. Although exact replication is often not possible or economically feasible, a similar feature made of other materials can be appropriate. Imitations made of synthetic materials should be avoided when not in scale or in the same architectural tradition; however, the Commission is empowered to approve the use of such synthetic materials when deemed more appropriate. Distinguishing architectural features shall include cornices, frames around windows and doors, lintels, arches, chimneys and all other matters of architectural significance that are not excluded under this chapter.
C. 
Additions.
(1) 
Exterior additions shall be considered only after it has been determined by the Commission that the new use cannot be successfully met by altering non-character-defining interior spaces.
(2) 
The attached exterior addition shall be placed at the rear or on an inconspicuous side of an historic building and shall have its size and scale limited in relationship to the historic building.
(3) 
New additions shall be designed in a manner that makes clear what is historic and what is new.
(4) 
When additional stories are required for the new use, they shall be constructed so that the historic appearance of the building is not radically changed.
(5) 
When applicable, the standards in Subsection B shall be used.
D. 
New construction shall not obstruct frontal view of an historic building. The same standards as those in Subsections B and C shall apply.

§ 132-13 Certificate of appropriateness required.

A. 
The Code Enforcement Officer shall not issue any permits or other authorizations for any additions, alterations or demolitions with regard to any historical building in the Town of Wells in the absence of a certificate of appropriateness.
B. 
A certificate of appropriateness issued by the Historic Preservation Commission shall be required for any material change in the exterior appearance of an historic building, whether by additions, demolitions, reconstruction or alteration, regardless of whether or not a building permit or other authorization is concurrently required.

§ 132-14 Application for certificate of appropriateness.

A. 
Application for a certificate of appropriateness may be obtained from the Code Enforcement Officer. Completed applications shall be submitted to the Code Enforcement Officer, who shall transmit them to the Historic Preservation Commission for action within at least five days. When the Commission acts on the application, it shall be returned to the Code Enforcement Officer, who shall then issue or deny permits and/or certificates of appropriateness.
B. 
The application fee shall be as established by the Board of Selectmen, following notice and a public hearing, payable to the Town of Wells, and shall accompany the application.
C. 
The application shall state the location, use and nature of the matter for which a certificate is sought and shall contain at least the following information, unless any items are waived by the Commission:
(1) 
The applicant's name and address and his interest in the property (such as owner or lessor).
(2) 
The owner's name and address, if different from the applicant's.
(3) 
The address or location of the property.
(4) 
The present use and zoning classification of the property.
(5) 
A brief description of the construction, reconstruction, remodeling, alteration, demolition or moving requiring the issuance of a certificate of appropriateness.
(6) 
A drawing or drawings indicating the design, texture and location of any proposed alteration or new construction for which the certificate is required. As used herein, "drawings" shall mean plans and exterior elevations with sufficient detail to show exterior appearance and the architectural design of the buildings. Additionally, the applicant shall provide evidence of materials and textures, including samples or pictures of any brick, shingles or siding proposed to be used. Drawings shall not be required to be prepared by a registered architect but shall be clear, complete and specific.
(7) 
Photographs of the building involved and of immediately adjacent buildings.
(8) 
A site plan indicating any proposed changes involving walls, walks, accessory buildings, signs and outdoor light fixtures. This drawing need not necessitate the use of professional services.

§ 132-15 Administration of certificate of appropriateness.

A. 
Notice to owner. Within 15 days after the filing of an application for a certificate of appropriateness to the Code Enforcement Officer, the Commission shall inform the following persons by certified mail of the application and meeting date: the applicant, owners of abutting property, the Historical Society of Wells and Ogunquit, the Code Enforcement Officer and the Commission's consultants and professional advisors (if any). For purposes of this notice, the owners of property shall be considered to be those against whom taxes were assessed on the prior April 1. Failure of any person to receive notices shall not necessitate another hearing or invalidate any action by the Commission.
B. 
Time. The time periods relating to a building permit application shall be extended to the time periods referenced herein if a building permit under Chapter 145, Land Use, is also required for the contemplated activity requiring a certificate hereunder.
C. 
Hearing. A public hearing on the application shall be conducted by the Commission within 30 days of receipt of the application by the Code Enforcement Officer.
D. 
Action. The Commission shall advise the applicant in writing of its decision as to whether the proposed construction, reconstruction, alteration or demolition is appropriate or inappropriate within 30 days of the public hearing. If the Commission determines the proposal is appropriate, it shall approve a certificate of appropriateness and return it to the Code Enforcement Officer for issuing of necessary authorities. If it is deemed inappropriate, no certificate of appropriateness shall be issued. Further, where applicable, the Commission shall advise the applicant of any changes which would secure the approval of the Commission, as well as all reasons for denial.
E. 
Appeals. Appeals involving interpretation or any alleged error in the procedure followed by the Code Enforcement Officer or by the Historic Preservation Commission may be made by any aggrieved party to the Wells Zoning Board of Appeals, which shall remand the matter to the Code Enforcement Officer or the Commission, as the case may be, for proper handling should an error be determined by a majority vote of the Zoning Board of Appeals. All other appeals from any final decision of the Commission may be taken by an aggrieved party or by the Commission itself to the York County Superior Court, in accordance with Rule 80-B of the Maine Rules of Civil Procedure.

§ 132-16 Demolition.

A. 
Before any authorization may be issued for demolition of a structure which is historically significant pursuant to the provisions hereof, the Commission shall determine that the building is not of sufficient historical significance to warrant preservation efforts and expense or is not capable of a reasonable economic return in its present location. In making such determination the Commission shall study the architectural and historic qualities of the building and such appraisal(s) as may be conducted by a professional appraiser on behalf of the Commission, at the expense of the Town of Wells, and an appraisal undertaken by the applicant if the applicant shall so desire.
B. 
The time for a decision by the Commission under this section shall extend for an additional term of 30 days in addition to the 30 days between the receipt of the application by the Code Enforcement Officer and the hearing and the 30 days between the hearing and the notification of the applicant by the Commission of its decision, and such additional term shall be applied and divided between the required time for the hearing and for the decision in such fashion as the Commission, in the exercise of its sole and absolute discretion, shall determine.
C. 
In the event that it shall be determined that preservation of the building is warranted pursuant to the provisions of this section, no permit for such demolition shall be issued for a term of three months thereafter, during which time the Commission and the applicant shall, where reasonably possible, explore any preservation opportunities involving the sale and/or relocation of the structure.

§ 132-17 Visual compatibility of new construction and alterations.

New construction and the alteration of existing historic buildings outside the boundaries of an historic district shall be visually compatible with the historic building so altered. New construction and the alteration of existing buildings within the boundaries of the historic district shall be compatible with other buildings and with streets and open spaces within the district. Applications for certificates of appropriateness and demolition shall be reviewed in terms of the following:
A. 
Height. The height of proposed additions and alterations shall be compatible with the historic building so altered or with adjacent buildings within an historic district.
B. 
Proportion of building front facade. The relationship of the width of the building to the height of the front elevation shall be visually compatible with the individual historic building and with the buildings of the historic district.
C. 
Proportion of openings with the facade. The relationship of the width of the windows to height of windows and doors shall be visually compatible.
D. 
Rhythm of solids to voids in front facades. The relationship of solids to voids in the front facade shall be visually compatible.
E. 
Rhythm of spacing of buildings (only applies to historic districts). The relationship of buildings to the open space between them and adjoining buildings shall be compatible with those of buildings in the historic district.
F. 
Rhythm of entrance and/or porch projection. The relationship of entrance and porch to the street shall be compatible.
G. 
Relationship of materials and textures. The relationship of materials and textures shall be compatible.
H. 
Roof shapes. The roof shape of a building shall be compatible with the individual historic building and with the buildings in the historic district to which it is visually related.
I. 
Scale of buildings. The size of the building mass in relation to open spaces, the windows and door openings, porches and balconies shall be compatible.
J. 
Orientation. A building shall be compatible with the building to which it is visually related in its directional character, whether this is vertical, horizontal or nondirectional in character.

§ 132-18 Violations and penalties.

A. 
Violations. A person violating any provision of this chapter shall be subject to the penalties set forth in 30-A M.R.S.A. § 4452 for violation of land use ordinances, and this chapter shall be deemed a local land use ordinance for purposes of enforcement.
[Amended 3-10-1990; 11-7-2000]
B. 
Additional remedies. In addition to the remedies provided herein, the Commission and/or the Code Enforcement Officer is authorized to institute any and all actions and proceedings, in law or equity, as it or he may deem necessary and appropriate to obtain compliance with the requirements of this chapter or to prevent a threatened violation thereof.