Town of Lexington, MA
Middlesex County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Meeting of the Town of Lexington as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 4-14-1986 ATM by Art. 39]
[Amended 3-21-2016 ATM by Art. 30[1]; 3-28-2018 ATM by Art. 44]
This bylaw is enacted for the purpose of preserving and protecting significant buildings within the Town, and to encourage owners of such buildings to seek out persons who might be willing to purchase, preserve, rehabilitate or restore such buildings rather than demolish them. To achieve these purposes the Lexington Historical Commission (the "Commission") is empowered to advise the Building Commissioner with respect to the issuance of permits for demolition of significant buildings. The issuance of demolition permits for significant buildings is regulated as provided in this bylaw except those buildings which are within Historic Districts or Neighborhood Conservation Districts (as defined below).
Buildings which are within Historic Districts are subject to the bylaws and regulations of the Historic Districts Commission, including § 19-4 of this bylaw. Buildings which are in Neighborhood Conservation Districts are subject to the bylaws and regulations of the applicable Neighborhood Conservation District Commission.
[1]
Editor's Note: This article also changed the title of Art. I from "Historically or Architecturally Significant Buildings Outside of Historic Districts" to "Historically or Architecturally Significant Buildings."
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
BUILDING
Any combination of materials forming a shelter for persons, animals or property.
COMMISSION
Except as otherwise provided in § 19-4, the Lexington Historical Commission.
[Amended 3-21-2016 ATM by Art. 30]
DEMOLITION
Any act of substantially pulling down, destroying, removing or razing a building or any portions thereof, or commencing the work of total or substantial destruction with the intent of completing the same. "Demolition" as used herein shall be deemed to include demolition by neglect.
[Amended 4-11-2007 ATM by Art. 15]
DEMOLITION BY NEGLECT
A process of ongoing damage to the fabric, viability and/or functionability of an unoccupied building leading towards and/or causing its eventual demolition due to decay and/or structural failure and/or severe degradation over a period of time as a result of a general lack of maintenance, and/or failure to secure the building from pests or vandals, and/or failure to take reasonable measures to prevent the ingress of water, snow, ice, and wind through the roof, walls, or apertures.
[Added 4-11-2007 ATM by Art. 15]
HISTORIC DISTRICTS
Historic districts as defined in Chapter 447 of the Acts of 1956, as amended.
[Added 3-21-2016 ATM by Art. 30]
HISTORIC DISTRICTS COMMISSION
The Historic Districts Commission established pursuant to Chapter 447 of the Acts of 1956, as amended.
[Added 3-21-2016 ATM by Art. 30]
NEIGHBORHOOD CONSERVATION DISTRICT COMMISSION
Each Neighborhood Conservation Districts Commission established pursuant to Chapter 78 of the Lexington Code, as amended.
[Added 3-28-2018 ATM by Art. 44]
NEIGHBORHOOD CONSERVATION DISTRICTS
Neighborhood Conservation Districts as defined in Chapter 78 of the Code of Lexington.
[Added 3-28-2018 ATM by Art. 44]
SIGNIFICANT BUILDING
Except as otherwise provided in § 19-4, any building or portion thereof not within an Historic District or Neighborhood Conservation District but which:
[Amended 3-21-2016 ATM by Art. 30; 3-28-2018 ATM by Art. 44]
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 in the Cultural Resources Inventory prepared by the Commission including those buildings listed for which complete surveys may be pending; or
C. 
Has been determined by vote of the Commission to be historically or architecturally significant in terms of period, style, method of building construction, or association with a famous architect or builder provided that the owner of such a building and the Building Commissioner have been notified, in hand or by certified mail, within 10 days of such vote.
A. 
Upon receipt of an application for a demolition permit for a significant building the Building Commissioner shall forward a copy thereof to the Commission. No demolition permit shall be issued at that time.
B. 
The Commission shall fix a reasonable time for the hearing on any application and shall give public notice thereof by publishing notice of the time, place, and purpose of the hearing in a local newspaper at least 14 days before said hearing and also, within seven days of said hearing, mail a copy of said notice to the applicant, to the owners of all property deemed by the Commission to be affected thereby as they appear on the most recent local tax list, to the Historic Districts Commission and to such other persons as the Commission shall deem entitled to notice.
[Amended 3-28-2018 ATM by Art. 44]
C. 
If, after such hearing, the Commission determines that the 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 Building Commissioner within 10 days of such determination. Upon receipt of such notification, or after the expiration of 15 days from the date of the conduct of the hearing if he has not received notification from the Commission, the Building Commissioner may, subject to the requirements of the State Building Code and any other applicable laws, bylaws, rules and regulations, issue the demolition permit.
D. 
If the Commission determines that the demolition of the significant building would be detrimental to the historical or architectural heritage or resources of the Town, such building shall be considered a preferably-preserved significant building.
E. 
Upon a determination by the Commission that the significant building which is the subject of the application for a demolition permit is a preferably-preserved significant building, the Commission shall so advise the applicant and the Building Commissioner, and no demolition permit may be issued until any one of the conditions in § 19-3F is met.
[Amended 4-11-2007 ATM by Art. 15]
F. 
The Building Commissioner may issue a demolition permit for a preferably-preserved significant building at any time after:
[Amended 4-11-2007 ATM by Art. 15]
(1) 
He receives written notice from the Commission that it 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
(2) 
He receives written notice from the Commission that it is satisfied that 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; or
(3) 
A period of 12 months shall have elapsed since the date of the Commission's determination that the significant building which is the subject of the application for a demolition permit is a preferably-preserved building.
[Added 4-11-2007 ATM by Art. 15[1]; amended 3-21-2016 ATM by Art. 30]
A. 
The term "Commission" as used in this § 19-4 shall mean the Lexington Historical Commission or, with respect to buildings within its jurisdiction, the Historic Districts Commission.
[Amended 3-28-2018 ATM by Art. 44]
B. 
The term "significant building" as used in this § 19-4 and in § 19-5 shall also include buildings subject to the jurisdiction of the Historic Districts Commission.
[Amended 3-28-2018 ATM by Art. 44]
C. 
If the Commission has reason to believe, through visual inspection or other means, that a significant building may be undergoing demolition by neglect, then the Commission shall notify the Building Commissioner and the owner, and the Commission and the Building Commissioner shall jointly hold a public hearing to i) confirm whether or not the building is a significant building and ii) determine whether or not it is undergoing demolition by neglect, which shall require the concurrence of the Building Commissioner. In furtherance of determining its condition, the Commission may, at any time, request an inspection of the building by the Building Commissioner.
D. 
If the Commission and the Building Commissioner both determine that the building is undergoing demolition by neglect, the Commission and the Building Commissioner shall attempt to negotiate a voluntary agreement with the owner for appropriate and timely repairs sufficient to structurally stabilize the building and/or prevent further deterioration.
E. 
In the event that the Commission and the Building Commissioner both determine that they are not able to negotiate such an agreement with the owner, for any reason, or that the owner has agreed to undertake but has failed to satisfactorily complete such repairs in a timely manner, then the Commission and the Building Commissioner may take such action as is permitted under § 19-5, including seeking a court order that specific repairs be undertaken to secure the building against the elements, vandals and vermin, to halt further deterioration, and to stabilize it structurally. The Commission may forbear from commencing an action in court for any reason.
F. 
Upon completion of all repairs that have been agreed upon between the owner and the Commission and the Building Commissioner or that have been ordered by the Commission and the Building Commissioner, or that have been ordered by the court, and upon certification by the Building Commissioner that said repairs have been completed, the Commission shall certify that the building is no longer undergoing demolition by neglect.
[1]
Editor's Note: This article also renumbered former §§ 19-4 and 19-5 as §§ 19-5 and 19-7, respectively.
[Amended 4-11-2007 ATM by Art. 15; 3-21-2016 ATM by Art. 30]
A. 
The Commission and the Building Commissioner are each authorized to institute any and all proceedings in law or equity as they deem necessary and appropriate to obtain compliance with the requirements of this bylaw, or to prevent a violation thereof. The Historic Districts Commission is, in addition, authorized to institute any such proceeding to obtain compliance with §§ 19-4 and 19-5B and 19-5C of this bylaw.
B. 
No building permit shall be issued with respect to any premises upon which a significant building has been voluntarily demolished in violation of this bylaw for a period of two years after the date of the completion of such demolition or the date by which the Commission or the Historic Districts Commission, as applicable, and the Building Commissioner both have determined that a building is undergoing demolition by neglect, whichever date is later, except pursuant to the issuance of a building permit pursuant to an agreement reached under § 19-4D herein, or as otherwise agreed to by the Commission or Historic Districts Commission, as applicable. As used herein "premises" includes the parcel of land upon which the demolished significant building was located.
C. 
Upon a determination by the Commission or the Historic Districts Commission, as applicable, that a building is a preferably preserved significant building, the owner shall be responsible for properly securing the building if vacant, to the satisfaction of the Building Commissioner. Should the owner fail so to secure the building, the loss of such building through fire or other cause shall be considered voluntary demolition for the purposes of Subsection B of this section.
[Added 4-11-2007 ATM by Art. 15]
Notwithstanding any other provision of this bylaw, nothing herein shall be construed to prevent the demolition of any structure or portion thereof which the Building Commissioner shall certify is required by the public safety because of an unsafe or dangerous condition.
If any section, paragraph or part of this bylaw be for any reason declared invalid or unconstitutional by any court, every other section, paragraph and part shall continue in full force and effect.
[Added 3-27-2013 ATM by Art. 31]
Prior to inclusion of a building or portion thereof in the Cultural Resources Inventory, the Commission shall provide advance written notice of no less than 21 (twenty-one) days, sent to the address of the owner of record of said property, as maintained in the Assessor’s office. Said notice shall include the date of the meeting at which the Commission will deliberate on inclusion of said building in the Cultural Resources Inventory.