City of Buffalo, NY
Erie County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
A. 
Certificate required and building permit required. It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to construct, alter, remove or demolish any improvement or structure which is a landmark, part of a landmark site or which is located in an historic district when such action will affect the exterior of such property without having first obtained a certificate of appropriateness or a certificate of no effect or a certificate of exception authorizing such work.
B. 
Building permit required, but no certificate required. Building permit applications for construction, alteration, removal or demolition involving any improvement or structure which is a landmark, part of a landmark site or which is located in an historic district when such action will not affect the exterior of such property do not require a certificate of appropriateness, a certificate of no effect, a certificate of exception or Board review. In such instances, the Department of Public Works shall stamp the building permit "Please note that an additional permit is required if exterior work is undertaken."
C. 
Certificate required, but no building permit required. In a case where no building permit is required, application for permission to construct, alter, remove or demolish landmarks, improvements on landmark sites or structures within historic districts shall be made directly to the Preservation Board.
A copy of the certificate as required herein shall be prominently displayed at the site during the execution of the work regulated hereunder. The Department of Public Works shall not issue building or demolition permits unless and until a certificate as required by this chapter shall been issued.
The Department of Public Works shall, within seven days of receipt, refer all building and demolition permit applications for work requiring a certificate hereunder, including the accompanying plans and specifications, involving landmarks, improvements on landmark sites or structures within historic districts to the Preservation Board for its action.
A. 
The Preservation Board shall consider properly completed applications at the regularly scheduled meeting following their filing and shall approve or deny all applications at the earliest possible date, but no longer than within 45 days.
B. 
The Preservation Board may, in its discretion, hold a public hearing on any application before it. Such hearing shall be preceded by notice to the applicant mailed at least 10 days prior to the hearing and publication of the notice of hearing in a newspaper of general circulation at least 10 days prior to the hearing. The holding of such public hearing shall not extend the forty-five-day period in which the Preservation Board must act.
C. 
An applicant may meet with the Secretary at any time during the review of his application.
A. 
In considering an application for permission to construct, alter, remove or demolish any improvement or structure which is a landmark, part of a landmark site or which is located in an historic district, the Preservation Board shall be guided by the current edition of the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings as general criteria. A copy of this publication is accessible to the public in the office of the Secretary.
B. 
In addition, the Preservation Board may adopt design guidelines for the review of applications for each landmark, landmark site or historic district. These design guidelines, subject to the approval of the Common Council, shall not be inconsistent with the current edition of the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings and shall encompass the following architectural criteria:
(1) 
Height. The height of any proposed alteration or construction should be compatible with the style and character of the landmark and with surrounding structures in an historic district.
(2) 
Proportions of windows and doors. The proportions and relationships between doors and windows should be compatible with the architectural style and character of the landmark and with surrounding structures within an historic district.
(3) 
Relationship of building masses and spaces. The relationship of a structure within an historic district to the open space between it and adjoining structures should be compatible.
(4) 
Roof shape. The design of the roof should be compatible with the architectural style and character of the landmark and surrounding structures in an historic district.
(5) 
Landscaping. Landscaping should be compatible with the architectural character and appearance of the landmark and of surrounding structures and landscapes in historic districts.
(6) 
Scale. The scale of the structure after alteration, construction or partial demolition should be compatible with its architectural style and character and with surrounding structures in an historic district.
(7) 
Directional expression. Facades in historic districts should relate to other structures with regard to directional expression. Structures in an historic district should be compatible with the dominant horizontal or vertical expression of surrounding structures. The directional expression of a landmark after alteration, construction or partial demolition should be compatible with its original architectural style and character.
(8) 
Architectural details. Architectural details, including materials, colors and textures, should be treated so as to make a landmark compatible with its original architectural style and character and to preserve and enhance the architectural style or character of a landmark, landmark site or historic district.
A. 
The Preservation Board may issue a certificate of appropriateness for work where the plans for construction, alteration, removal or demolition conform to the provisions of this code and to design guidelines adopted in accordance with this code.
B. 
Written notice of the Preservation Board's decision shall be provided the applicant and the Department of Public Works within seven days of the decision. If approved, the certificate of appropriateness shall accompany the notice.
C. 
In case of a denial of an application, the Preservation Board shall state the reasons therefor and shall make recommendations concerning changes in the applicant's proposed action that would be grounds for reconsideration of the application. An applicant may amend an application or reapply at any time.
Where it is determined by the Preservation Board that proposed plans contained in an application have no effect upon the exterior of a landmark, an improvement on a landmark site or a structure within an historic district, it shall issue a certificate of no effect. The Preservation Board may delegate to the Secretary the authority to approve and issue a certificate of no effect. Written notice of the issuance of a certificate of no effect shall be provided the applicant and the Department of Public Works within seven days of the decision, which shall be accompanied by the certificate.
A. 
The Preservation Board shall have the power to vary or modify adherence to the standards and criteria of this code and issue certificates of exception in lieu of the certificates otherwise required herein. This power may be exercised by the Preservation Board where, by reason of particular site conditions and restraints or unusual circumstances relating solely to a particular applicant, strict enforcement of this code would result in undue hardship to the applicant. The applicant shall have the burden of proving undue hardship.
B. 
An applicant seeking to prove undue hardship shall prove the following facts:
(1) 
Reasonable return. The land or improvement in question cannot yield a reasonable return without the requested construction, alteration, removal or demolition in the case of commercial or business properties or properties held for investment purposes.
(2) 
Unsuited for reasonable use. The land or improvement in question cannot be put to a reasonable use without the requested construction, alteration, removal or demolition, in the case of residential properties.
(3) 
Prevention of purpose. The land or improvement in question, without the requested construction, alteration, removal or demolition, may not be used without physically or financially preventing or seriously interfering with the carrying out of the charitable purpose in the case of properties held for charitable, religious or nonprofit purposes.
C. 
In granting a certificate of exception, the Preservation Board shall limit variation or modification of the code to the minimum required to effect substantial justice and may prescribe conditions that it deems necessary or appropriate. The Preservation Board shall provide written notice of the grant of the certificate of exception to the applicant and to the Department of Public Works within seven days of its decision which shall be accompanied by the certificate.
[Amended 7-22-2003, effective 8-4-2003]
A. 
Where an application to the Preservation Board seeks approval of demolition or removal of a landmark, improvement on a landmark site or a structure within an historic district, the Board shall evaluate the application in accordance with the provisions set forth in this code. Where the Board denies permission to commence immediate demolition, it is empowered to make determinations that the structure or improvement sought to be demolished or removed is of such importance that alternatives to demolition should be pursued and that a hardship under § 337-23 exists. Where these determinations are made, the Preservation Board may delay demolition for a maximum period of 180 days after the initial forty-five-day period provided by § 337-19 herein. In cases where these determinations are not made, no automatic right of demolition shall exist.
B. 
During any such period, the Board may take such steps as it deems necessary to avoid demolition of the structure or improvement, including but not limited to preparation, publication and receipt of requests for proposals; solicitation of prospective developers; consultation with civic groups, public agencies and interested citizens; and recommendations for acquisition of the property by others.
C. 
In the event that the Board refuses to approve demolition during or after this period of delay, occasioned by the Board's findings of hardship and architectural importance set forth in Subsection A, the applicant may appeal the Board's action to the Common Council. The Common Council shall issue the appropriate certificate for demolition either at the end of the delay period or within 60 days of the filing of the appeal, whichever is later.
D. 
In the event that the Board refuses to approve demolition but does not find hardship and architectural importance, any appeal to the Common Council shall be in accordance solely with § 337-26 herein.
E. 
During any such period, the owner shall prevent further deterioration of the structure or improvement, and the owner shall act in good faith and shall allow the Board reasonable access to the structure and improvement, and permit reasonable inspection of the information about the structure or improvement, if requested by the Board.
F. 
The Preservation Board will conduct public hearings for all properties in locally designated or nationally registered historic districts, local landmarks, properties listed in the National Register for Historic Places and national historic landmarks.
(1) 
Notice and hearing. The Preservation Board shall publish a notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the City of Buffalo, setting forth the name of the applicant, the location and owner of the property, and the time and place of a public hearing to be held by the Preservation Board on no sooner than five business days after the day of publication. Upon an application for a demolition permit, the Preservation Board shall also serve 10 days' notice of the time, place and object of such hearing upon all owners and occupants of properties having a frontage on both sides of the public highway or highways within 300 feet in both directions along such highway or highways from the nearest side line, or nearest side line extended, of the premises to be demolished and also upon the owners and occupants of all properties located within 50 feet of the rear or side line of any premises to be demolished. Such notice shall also indicate that the demolition permit application is available for public inspection at the Preservation Board's office prior to such hearing. The Preservation Board shall make available for public inspection prior to such hearing the demolition permit application.
(2) 
Public hearings may also be had for properties that come to the attention of the Preservation Board which could be deemed significant and worthy of preservation after applying the criteria for review as provided in § 337-20 of the Code.
[Added 7-31-1990, effective 8-16-1990]
A. 
Recommendation.
(1) 
Under conditions described in this section, the Preservation Board may recommend that certain buildings be substantially rehabilitated for adaptive reuse in accordance with an agreement.
(a) 
The Board has determined that a building sought to be demolished is of such architectural or historical significance that alternatives to demolition should be pursued as set forth in § 337-24 despite findings of undue hardship under § 337-23; or
(b) 
An application for a permit to demolish a landmark otherwise referred to the Board under the provisions of this chapter is denied or delayed due to a determination of architectural or historical significance despite findings of undue hardship.
(2) 
Recommendation for adaptive reuse may be made upon an application of a vendee under a contract of sale, owner or other party in interest of such building where the applicant can demonstrate hardship as set forth in § 337-23, but in no case shall such application alone constitute proof of undue hardship.
B. 
Notice. A recommendation for adaptive reuse shall take the form of written notice to be provided the applicant and the relevant governmental enforcement agency (the Department of Public Works or the Department of Inspections and Community Revitalization) within seven days of a denial or delay of demolition and shall stay any appeal otherwise pending before the Common Council.
C. 
Action upon recommendation. In consultation with the applicant and with the assistance of the Department of Community Development, the Division of Planning, the Department of Assessment and the Board shall endeavor to devise a plan for adaptive reuse in accordance with preservation standards. As provided (documented) in an appraisal acceptable to the Department of Community Development, such plan shall provide for substantial rehabilitation which shall improve the building in an amount of at least twice the prerehabilitation assessment value of the property upon which such building is situate.
D. 
Compensation. The Council shall review said recommendations and may provide as compensation an abatement of local real property taxes which shall in no case exceed 50% of the total postrehabilitation assessment value for a duration not to exceed 20 years. Such compensation shall at all times be calculated as a portion of total postrehabilitation tax liability and shall in no case result in a negative tax liability.
E. 
Execution. Upon certification by the Department of Community Development, approval of the Common Council and agreement of the applicant, an adaptive reuse plan above described shall be binding upon the applicant and subsequent owners to maintain the property upon which such building is situate in accordance with all terms, conditions and specifications of such plan and shall expressly provide that every deed conveying the property or any part or portion thereof shall contain a covenant incorporating all terms and conditions of the agreement. Such covenant shall continue for the duration of the agreement as stated herein and may exceed but in no case be less than the certified and approved schedule of abatement of local real property taxes provided in the agreement. Such agreement shall be in a form recordable among the land records of the County of Erie and shall be recorded and filed by the City at the applicant's expense in the office of the Erie County Clerk, and such duly approved, recorded and filed agreement shall take effect on the next taxable status date following the issuance of a certificate of occupancy.
F. 
Rescission. Landmark designation of any building rehabilitated and maintained in accordance with an adaptive reuse agreement shall in no case be rescinded prior to the expiration of the term of any compensation certified and approved in the manner herein provided. The duration of any abatement herein certified and approved shall be contingent upon continued compliance with all conditions of the adaptive reuse agreement providing such compensation.
G. 
Regulations in accordance with the intent of this chapter may be issued pursuant to § 337-5A to provide for the administration of this section.
Any notice or certificates issued pursuant to this code shall relate solely to proposed plans accompanying the application or otherwise submitted for the Preservation Board's consideration. It shall be unlawful to deviate from the proposed plans or any modifications required thereto as approved by the Preservation Board.
A. 
Jurisdiction. The Common Council shall have jurisdiction to decide all appeals from action of the Preservation Board brought by aggrieved applicants.
B. 
Procedure. All such appeals shall be fixed with the City Clerk, who shall cause the appeals to be presented to the Common Council at its next stated meeting. The Common Council shall refer such appeals to the Committee on Legislation. The Committee shall set the matter down for a public hearing, as provided in §§ 337-6 through 337-14 herein, unless such hearing is waived by consent of the applicant. After hearing the parties, the Committee shall recommend to the Common Council the action to be taken.
C. 
Determination. The Committee shall forward its recommendation to the Common Council, which may affirm, reverse, modify or amend the Preservation Board's recommendation within 60 days of the date of the filing of the appeal. The Common Council shall set forth its reasons for such action.