Town of Orleans, MA
Barnstable County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted 5-8-2000 Annual Town Meeting, Art. 27. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Zoning — See Ch. 164.


This Bylaw is enacted for the purpose of preserving and protecting significant buildings within the Town of Orleans which reflect distinctive features of the architectural, historical, and cultural heritage of 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 Orleans Historical Commission (the "Commission") is empowered to advise the Building Commissioner with respect to the issuance of permits for the demolition of significant buildings. The issuance of demolition permits for significant buildings is regulated as provided for in this Bylaw.


Building — A structure forming a shelter for persons, animals, property or an activity and having a roof.
Building Commissioner — The person occupying the office of Building Commissioner or otherwise authorized to issue demolition permits.
Commission — Orleans Historical Commission.
Demolition — The act or process of pulling down, destroying, removing or razing a building, or any portion that results in a change in the footprint, or however, that the term "demolition" shall not include the ordinary maintenance or repair to any building or structure.
Demolition By Neglect — A process of ongoing damage to the fabric, viability and/or functionality of an unoccupied structure 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 structure 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 5-7-2012 ATM, Art. 28]
Preferably-preserved Significant Building — Any significant building which the Commission determines is in the public interest to be preserved or rehabilitated rather than demolished.
Significant Building — Any building or portion thereof, which is not within a regional or local historic district subject to regulation under the provisions of Massachusetts General Law 40C or special act of Legislature, but which is included in the historical property survey of the Town of Orleans and on file with the Massachusetts Historical Commission, or
The building was built in or prior to 1920, and
Is listed in, or is within an area listed, in the National Register of Historic Places, or the State Register of Historic Places, or is the subject of a pending application for listing in said Registers, or has previously been determined to be eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, or
Has been previously 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, or
Is importantly associated with one or more historic persons or events, or the broad architectural, political, economic or social history of the Town or Commonwealth, provided that the owner of such a building and the Building Commissioner have been notified, in hand or by certified mail within ten (10) days of such Commission vote.


No permit for the demolition of a "significant" building as defined in Section 2.3 herein shall be issued other than in conformity with the provisions of this Bylaw and the provisions of all other laws applicable to the demolition of buildings and the issuance of permits generally.
Any person who intends to file an application for a permit to demolish a "significant" building shall first file a "Notice of Intent to Demolish a Significant Building" with the Building Commissioner. In addition, the applicant shall complete the review process set forth in this Section. In order to have standing to file a notice of intent an applicant must have a present intent to demolish a significant building within twelve months of the date of the notice of intent.
[Amended 5-7-2012 ATM, Art. 28]
The Notice of Intent shall include the following:
Name of applicant with address, telephone number and stated interest in the property.
Owner name, address and telephone number if different.
A map showing the location of the building or structure to be demolished on the property and with reference to neighboring properties.
A description of the building or structure, or part thereof, to be demolished including photographs.
A statement of the reason for the proposed demolition and data supporting said reason, including where applicable, data sufficient to establishing any economic justification for demolition. Application shall include a copy of the demolition plan and a proposed re-use of the property.
[Amended 5-7-2012 ATM, Art. 28]
The Commission shall hold a public hearing on each such Notice of Intent within 45 days after the date it is filed with the Building Commissioner. The Commission shall give public notice thereof by publishing twice a notice of the time, place and purpose of the hearing in a local newspaper with the first notice being published at least fourteen (14) days before said hearing. A copy of said notice shall be mailed to the applicant, to the owners of all abutting property as they appear on the most recent tax list, to the Building Commissioner, Planning Board and Conservation Commission. Commission meetings shall be posted and held in accordance with applicable state law, known as the "open meeting law".
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 applicant and the Building Commissioner within ten (10) days of such determination. Upon receipt of such notification, or upon failure by the Commission to hold a public hearing within forty-five (45) days of the day the "Notice of Intent" was filed with the Building Commissioner or to make a decision within ten (10) days following said hearing, the Building Commissioner may, subject to the requirements of the State Building Code and any other applicable laws, rules and regulations, issue the demolition permit.
If, after such a hearing, 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".
Upon determination by the Commission that the "significant" building which is the subject of the Notice of Intent to Demolish 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 365 days after the date of the Commission's determination. Notwithstanding the preceding sentence, the Building Commissioner may issue a demolition permit for a "preferably-preserved significant building" at any time after receipt of written advice from the Commission to the effect that the Commission is satisfied that bona fide and reasonable efforts have been made to locate a purchaser willing to preserve, rehabilitate and restore the subject building, and that such efforts have been unsuccessful.
[Amended 11-7-2005 STM, Art. 13]
No building permit for erection of a new structure on the site of an existing "significant" building footprint as defined in Section 2.3 may be issued prior to issuance of a permit for demolition of such existing significant building.
No permit for demolition of a building determined to be a "preferably-preserved significant building" under Section 3.4 shall be granted until plans for use or development of the site after demolition have been filed with the Building Commissioner and found to comply with all laws pertaining to the issuance of a building permit, or if for a parking lot, a certificate of occupancy, for that site. All approvals necessary for the issuance of such a building permit or certificate of occupancy including without limitation any necessary zoning variances or special permit, must be granted and all appeals from the granting of such approvals must be concluded, prior to the issuance of a demolition permit under this subsection.


[Added 5-7-2012 ATM, Art. 28[1]]
A significant building shall be maintained in a weathertight condition so as to prevent water intrusion into any portion of the building and to prevent demolition by neglect, including but not limited to maintenance of the roofing, siding, windows, doors, trim and other architectural features. Maintenance shall also include the replacement or repair of any structural element or exterior architectural feature that if left unattended would result in further damage or degradation to any building element.
This section shall apply to the following significant buildings:
A building or portion thereof in commercial use, or an income-producing residential use.
Any unoccupied single-family residential structure.
This section shall not apply to an owner-occupied single-family residential structure.
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 Inspector and the owner. The Commission shall hold a public hearing to determine whether or not the significant building is undergoing demolition by neglect. In furtherance of determining its condition, the Commission may, at any time, request an inspection of the structure by the Building Inspector. If the Commission determines that the significant structure is undergoing demolition by neglect, the Commission shall attempt to negotiate a voluntary agreement with the owner for appropriate and timely repairs sufficient to structurally stabilize the significant structure and/or prevent further deterioration. In the event that the Commission determines that it is not able to negotiate such an agreement with the owner, for any reason, or that the owner has agreed to undertake but has failed satisfactorily to complete such repairs in a timely manner, then the Commission may take such action as is permitted under this Bylaw, including seeking a court order that specific repairs be undertaken to secure the significant building against the elements, vandals or vermin, to halt further deterioration, and/or to stabilize it structurally. The Commission may forbear from commencing an action in court for any reason. Upon completion of all repairs that have been agreed upon between the owner and the Commission that have been ordered by the Commission that have been ordered by the court, and upon certification by the Building Inspector that said repairs have been completed, the Commission shall certify that the structure is no longer undergoing demolition by neglect.
The Commission may grant a waiver from the requirements of this section upon a showing of impossibility, or financial hardship, or the occurrence of events beyond the owner's control, or such other circumstances as the Commission may determine.
Editor's Note: This article also redesignated former §§ 106-4 and 106-5 as §§ 106-5 and 106-6, respectively.


Nothing in this Bylaw shall restrict the Building Commissioner from ordering the demolition of any "significant" building in the event it is determined that the condition of the building or structure poses a serious and imminent threat to public health and safety and there is no reasonable alternative to immediate demolition.
Whenever the Building Commissioner issues an emergency demolition permit under this Section, he shall prepare a written report with attached photographic evidence describing the condition of said building or structure and the basis of the decision to issue an emergency demolition permit and provide a copy thereof to the Commission.


Any person(s) who demolishes a building or structure identified in Section 2.3 without first obtaining, and complying fully with, the provisions of a demolition permit shall be subject to a fine of three hundred dollars ($300.00). Each day of non-compliance shall be considered a separate offense.
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 violation thereof.
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 (2) years after the date of the completion of such demolition. As used herein, "premises" includes the parcel of land upon which the demolished "significant" building was located.
Upon a determination by the Commission 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.


[Added 5-7-2012 ATM, Art. 28[1]]
All determinations by written finding made by the Historical Commission pursuant to 106-3(C) and (D) shall expire two years from the date of the written finding if the work authorized has not commenced. All determinations by written finding made by the Historical Commission pursuant to 106-3(E) shall expire two years from the expiration of the demolition delay period if the work authorized has not commenced.
Editor's Note: This article also redesignated former §§ 106-6 through 106-8 as §§ 106-8 through 106-10, respectively.


Any person aggrieved by a decision of the Orleans Historical Commission acting under this bylaw, shall have a right to appeal to the Board of Selectmen filed within seven (7) days of the date any such decision. The Board of Selectmen shall hold a hearing within ten (10) days of receipt of any such appeal and shall have a right to issue any decision which the Orleans Historical Commission could have issued in the first instance.


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.


If any provision of this Bylaw conflicts with Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 40C, the Historic District Act, that Act shall prevail.