[HISTORY: Adopted by the Special Town Meeting of the Town of Middleton 10-29-2002 by Art. 14. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The purpose of Middleton's Demolition Delay Bylaw is to preserve and protect significant buildings and structures within the Town of Middleton that are outside local historic districts. Such buildings and structures reflect distinctive features of the architectural, cultural, economic, agricultural landscape or social history of the Town, and their preservation promotes the public welfare by making the Town a more attractive and desirable place to live and work.
The intent of the bylaw is not to permanently prevent demolition, but rather, to provide an opportunity to develop preservation solutions for properties threatened with demolition through a six-month delay in issuing a demolition permit. In addition, this delay will give the Middleton Historical Commission ("the Commission") an opportunity to document historic or important architectural resources before they are lost from Middleton's cultural landscape.
The bylaw is intended to encourage and assist owners and Townspeople to seek out persons who might be willing to purchase, preserve, rehabilitate or restore such structures rather than demolish them, thus limiting detrimental effect of demolition on the historical architectural resources of the Town.
To achieve these purposes, the Commission is empowered to advise the Building Commissioner with respect to the issuance of permits for demolition of significant structures, and, where appropriate and consistent with the intent and purpose of this bylaw, to allow demolition under conditions designed to minimize the loss of distinctive features of significant structures.
- BUILDING or STRUCTURE
- Any combination of materials forming a shelter for persons, animals or property.
- BUSINESS DAY
- Any day which is not a legal municipal holiday, Saturday or Sunday.
- The Middleton Historical Commission.
- Any act of pulling down, destroying, removing, razing or moving a building or structure or any portion thereof, or commencing the work of moving or of total or substantial destruction of a structure or portion thereof, with the intent of completing the same.
- INITIAL DETERMINATION
- The evaluation process by which the Commission determines if a structure or building complies with the definition of "significant building or structure" or "preferably preserved."
- PREFERABLY PRESERVED
- Any significant building or structure that has been determined by the Commission, because of its importance to the historical and/or cultural resources of the Town, to be in the public interest to preserve.
- SIGNIFICANT BUILDING OR STRUCTURE
- Buildings and structures listed on the Massachusetts Historical Commission's MACRIS (Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System) inventory of cultural and historic resources in the Town of Middleton.
The provisions of this bylaw shall apply only to any building or structure which, in whole or in part, conforms to the definition of "significant building or structure."
No demolition of a building or structure, or any portion of a significant building or structure, shall be permitted except in conformity with the provisions of this bylaw.
Upon receipt of an application for a demolition permit for any significant building or structure, or portion thereof, the Building Commissioner shall forward a copy thereof to the Commission within five business days, and shall notify the applicant in writing of this action. No demolition permit shall be issued at that time.
Within 21 business days of its receipt of a copy of an application for a demolition permit, the Commission shall make an initial determination as to the significance of the subject structure. The initial determination shall be positive if the structure, or a portion thereof, meets one or other of the qualifying criteria defined in "significant structure." Otherwise, the initial determination shall be in the negative. The Commission shall notify the applicant of the meeting at which it intends to make its initial determination at least seven days in advance of said meeting, and the applicant shall be given an opportunity to make a presentation to the Commission.
The Commission shall notify the Building Commissioner, Planning Board, Board of Appeals and the applicant in writing within 10 business days of its initial determination. If the initial determination is in the negative, or if the Commission fails to notify the Building Commissioner of its initial determination within the said 10 business days, the Building Commissioner may, subject to the requirements of the State Building Code and any other applicable law, bylaws, rules and regulations, issue a demolition permit.
If the Commission's initial determination is positive, the Commission shall, within 30 days of its determination, conduct a public hearing to determine whether the significant structure is preferably preserved; the Commission shall give public notice of said hearing by publishing notice of the time, place, and purpose of the hearing in a newspaper of general circulation in the Town twice, the first notice to be published at least 14 days before the hearing and the second notice no more than seven days before the hearing, and by mailing a copy of said notice to the applicant, to the owner of the premises on which the significant structure is located (if other than the applicant) to the owners of all property within 300 feet of the premises on which the significant structure is located as appearing on the most recent tax list, and to such other persons as the Commission shall deem entitled to notice.
If, after a public hearing, the Commission determines that demolition of the significant structure would not be detrimental to the historical or architectural heritage or resources of the Town, the Commission shall so notify the applicant, the owner, if other than the applicant, and the Building Commissioner, in writing, within 10 business days of such determination. Upon receipt of such notice, or upon the expiration of 10 business days from the date of the close of the Commission's public hearing without having received any 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 a demolition permit for the subject structure.
If, after the public hearing, the Commission determines that demolition of the significant structure would be detrimental to the historical or architectural heritage or resources of the Town, such structure shall be considered to be a preferably preserved structure, and the Commission shall so advise the applicant, the owner if other than the applicant, and the Building Commissioner, in writing, within 10 business days, and no demolition permit shall be issued until six months after the date of such determination by the Commission.
During the six-month delay period following the Commission's determination that a structure is to be considered preferably preserved, the Commission shall notify the Massachusetts Historical Commission, the Town Administrator, and any other interested party in an effort to obtain assistance in obtaining preservation funding or in finding an adaptive use of the structure which will result in its preservation.
Notwithstanding the preceding subsections, the Building Commissioner may issue a demolition permit for a preferably preserved significant structure at any time after receipt of written advice from the Commission to the effect that:
Commission 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 structure, or
Commission is satisfied that for at least three months the owner has made continuing, bona fide and reasonable efforts to locate a purchaser to preserve, rehabilitate and restore the subject structure, and that such efforts have been unsuccessful;
Commission has determined that the proposed moving or demolition may be conducted in a specified manner so as not to be detrimental to the historical or architectural heritage or resources of the Town.
Once a significant building or structure is determined to be a preferably preserved structure, the owner shall be responsible for properly securing the building or structure, if vacant, to the satisfaction of the Building Commissioner. Should the owner fail to so secure the building or structure, a subsequent destruction of the structure at any time during the six-month demolition delay period, which destruction could have been prevented by the required security measures, shall be considered a demolition in violation of this bylaw.
Notwithstanding the following provisions, the Building Commissioner may issue a demolition permit at any time in the event of imminent and substantial danger to the health or safety of the public due to deteriorating conditions. Prior to doing so, the Building Commissioner shall inspect the building or structure and document, in writing, the findings and reasons requiring an emergency demolition, a copy of which shall be forwarded immediately to the Commission. Before allowing emergency demolition, the Building Commissioner shall make every effort to inform the Chairperson of the Commission of his intention to allow demolition before he issues a permit for emergency demolition.
No provision of this bylaw is intended to conflict with or abridge any obligations or rights conferred by MGL c. 143 regarding removal or demolition of dangerous or abandoned structures. In the event of a conflict, the applicable provisions of c. 143 shall control.
Nothing in this bylaw shall be deemed to conflict with the provisions of the Historic Districts Act, MGL c. 40C, with respect to requirements of notice, hearing and issuance by the Commission of a certificate of appropriateness, a certificate of nonapplicability or a certificate of hardship prior to demolition of any building or structure in an historic district.
The Building Commissioner is specifically authorized to institute any actions, in law or in equity, as deemed necessary to obtain compliance with the requirement of this bylaw to prevent a threatened violation thereof.
Except as provided below, whenever a significant building or structure or any portion thereof has been voluntarily demolished in violation of this bylaw, and for a period of two years after the date of completion of such demolition, no building permit shall be issued with respect to any premises upon which such demolition has occurred. As used herein, "premises" includes the parcel of land upon which the demolished significant structure was located.
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 bylaw better serves the intent and purpose of this bylaw, it may, prior to the expiration of said period of two years, but no sooner than six months from the date of completion of any demolition in violation of this bylaw, authorize issuance of building permit, upon such conditions as the Commission deems necessary or appropriate to effectuate the purposes of this bylaw, and may so notify the Building Commissioner.
If any section, paragraph or part of this bylaw is for any reason declared invalid or unconstitutional by any court, every other section, paragraph and part shall continue in full force and effect.