Town of Lewiston, NY
Niagara County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Lewiston 6-27-1977 by L.L. No. 9-1977 (Ch. 13A of the 1965 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Zoning — See Ch. 360.
This chapter shall be known as and may be cited as the "Town of Lewiston Historic Preservation Law."
The Town of Lewiston finds that many buildings, structures and sites or districts of such buildings, structures and sites within its borders have a unique character and special aesthetic interest and represent fine architectural products of distinct periods in the area's history. The Town also finds that such buildings, structures, sites or districts of such may be uprooted without adequate consideration of the irreplaceable loss to the citizens of the Town. Therefore, it is hereby declared to be a matter of public policy and a valid exercise of the inherent police powers of the Town to protect, enhance and perpetuate such buildings, structures, sites or districts as is necessary to:
A. 
Promote the health, prosperity and safety of Town citizens.
B. 
Safeguard the area's heritage by preserving elements of its cultural, political, economic and aesthetic history.
C. 
Foster civic pride in the beauty and noble accomplishments of the past.
D. 
Promote the use of such buildings, structures, sites or districts for the education, pleasure and welfare of the people of the area.
This chapter shall apply to all the area within the bounds of the Town of Lewiston, except any incorporated village.
For definitions applicable to this chapter, see § 360-18 of Chapter 360, Zoning, of the Code of the Town of Lewiston. In addition thereto, the following definitions are deemed controlling regarding terms utilized in this chapter:
ALTERATION
Any act or process which changes one or more of the exterior architectural features of a building, structure or site designated as historically significant or of any such building, structure or site in a historic district.
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS
That document issued by the Historic Preservation Commission which entitles the applicant for such to alter or demolish a building, structure, site or district of such designated to be historical.
DEMOLISH
To tear down, destroy or obliterate.
HISTORICAL
A term used to describe a building, structure, site or district of such which has importance in the chronological record of the Town of Lewiston, the state or nation as a representation of such entity's cultural, political, economic or aesthetic heritage.
HISTORIC DISTRICT
A historically defined geographic area with specific boundaries within which exists a concentration of historical buildings, structures or sites.
STYLES OF ARCHITECTURE
Styles recognized by one of the following organizations:
A. 
The National Register of Historic Places.
B. 
The Historic American Buildings Survey.
C. 
The Historic American Engineering Record, United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service.
D. 
The Division for Historic Preservation, New York State Office of Parks and Recreation.
E. 
The National Trust for Historic Preservation.
F. 
The Society of Architectural Historians.
[Amended 5-12-1980 by L.L. No. 3-1980; 9-11-2017 by L.L. No. 3-2017]
A. 
There shall be created by the Town Board of the Town of Lewiston an Historic Preservation Commission, which shall consist of seven members to be appointed by the Town Board. The Town Historian shall also be a member in an ex officio capacity.
B. 
Said members shall preferably be residents of the Town of Lewiston and shall include, if available, two architects, one of whom shall be a landscape architect, and one municipal planner. Other appointees shall be qualified by reason of training, experience or demonstrated interest in law, local law, local business or the history or historical preservation of Lewiston. A vacancy occurring in the membership for any cause shall be filled for the unexpired portion of the term by the Town Board.
C. 
The term of office shall be seven years, provided that, of those seven members initially appointed by the Town Board, one shall be for a term of seven years, one for six years, one for five years, one for four years, one for three years, one for two years and one for one year, so that all members will serve staggered terms.
D. 
The Commission shall elect one member as Chairman and one member as Vice Chairman and shall submit to the Town Board, in the last week of December, an annual report encapsulating its activities of the past year and predictions for the ensuing year. Such report shall also include recommendations that the Commission deems necessary to carry out the principles of this chapter and to enhance the historic and aesthetic qualities of the Town.
E. 
Members of the Commission shall serve without compensation but shall be reimbursed by the Town for expenses necessarily incurred in the performance of their duties, with proper approval of the Town Board.
F. 
Meetings of the Commission shall be held regularly at such times as the Commission may determine or at the call of the Chairman or at the call of at least two Commission members and must be held within 30 days of receipt of a complete application for a certificate of appropriateness by the Town Building Inspector. All Commission meetings shall be open to the public and notice of such shall be given in the official Town newspaper 10 days prior to the meeting.
G. 
The Commission shall keep regular minutes of its proceedings and show the vote of each member upon any question. It shall also keep records of its examinations and official actions.
A. 
The Commission shall inventory and designate all historically significant buildings, structures, sites or districts of such within the Town of Lewiston, enlisting the voluntary assistance of interested civic and social organizations. The initial inventory shall be completed within one year of the effective date of this chapter, and such inventory shall be reviewed, updated or revised where necessary each year thereafter before the submission of the annual report. Such initial inventory and annual alterations shall be distributed to the Town Building Inspector, Clerk, Historian and Assessor.
B. 
The Commission shall determine the acceptability of applications for certificates of appropriateness, which certificates allow applicants to alter or demolish a designated building, structure or site or alter, demolish or initiate new construction in a designated district.
[Amended 9-11-2017 by L.L. No. 3-2017]
A. 
Criteria for evaluation of historical significance shall be based on the following criteria:
(1) 
Date of erection.
(2) 
Construction style.
(a) 
The style of the building and the scarcity of the same, the quality of design and its scale, fenestration, trim, manner and material of construction.
(3) 
Alteration of the building.
(a) 
The alteration and desecration of original design and present condition and appearance, acknowledging the styles of architecture recognized by those organizations catalogued under "styles of architecture" found in § 40-4.
(4) 
Historical significance.
(a) 
The importance to the neighborhood, Town, state or nation and identification with historic persons or historic events.
B. 
Evaluation of districts shall be made using the same criteria and review as for individual buildings or structures, but, in addition, consideration shall be given to the collective merits and interrelationship of all buildings, structures and sites within a district's boundaries. A public hearing, with notice given in the official newspaper of the Town 10 days prior to the meeting, shall be attended and conducted by the Town Board and shall be held before the designation of any historic district in the Town.
C. 
Designation of a building, structure, site or district as historically significant shall be made by the Commission only after the Commission or its representatives have met with the owner of such building, structure, site or district or his representative. If, after just and proper notice is given, said owner or representative fails to meet with the Commission or its representative, designation may proceed. Notice of such impending meeting shall be personally served upon said owner if he is a resident of the Town or, if he is not a resident of the Town, shall be sent by certified mail to his last known address, as recited on the latest tax rolls of the Town. In either event, said notice shall be given at least 10 days, but not more than 20 days, prior to the day of said meeting. The owner of the property at issue may request a public hearing which the Town Board, in its discretion, may grant if it determines such to be in the public interest.
[Amended 9-11-2017 by L.L. No. 3-2017]
A. 
Applications for a building permit to alter or demolish a building, structure or site designated historically significant or to alter, demolish or initiate new construction in a designated historically significant district shall be submitted to the Town Building Inspector. Such application shall state that the property at issue is historically significant, but, in any event, the Building Inspector shall check each application against the latest inventory he has received from the Commission. Such application shall be sufficiently detailed to show that the proposed changes will be in harmony with the existing designated property and shall be accompanied by plans illustrating the designated property, the proposed changes and the relationship of such to adjacent property.
B. 
Upon the filing of such application, the Building Inspector shall immediately notify the Commission of such and forward the same to the Commission, together with the accompanying plans and other information, unless said application pertains solely to the interior of the designated building or structure or the same within a designated district.
C. 
The Commission shall meet within 30 days after receipt of the application by the Building Inspector, unless otherwise mutually agreed upon by the applicant and the Commission. In reviewing the application, the Commission may confer with the applicant or his representative. If the Commission approves the application, it shall issue a certificate of appropriateness which shall be attached to the building permit and immediately transmitted to the Building Inspector. The Commission shall also stamp all submitted plans. If the Commission disapproves an application, it shall state its reasons for doing so and shall transmit a record of such action and reasons therefor to the applicant and Building Inspector. The Commission may advise what it considers proper if the application is denied, and the applicant, if he so desires, may modify his plans and resubmit his application after doing so.
D. 
In approving or denying an application, the Commission shall consider the historical and architectural importance of the property, the site in relation to its surroundings, the value to the community, the condition and integrity of the property at the time of application, the severity of the change in exterior design and the degree of harmony and integration of the proposed changes with the original property.
E. 
The Commission shall review whether the denial of a certificate will cause economic hardship to the applicant and, if so, to what extent.
F. 
Failure of the Commission to approve or disapprove an application within 30 days after its reception by the Building Inspector or within that time period mutually agreed upon by the applicant and the Commission shall be deemed to constitute approval by the Commission, and the Building Inspector shall proceed to process the application notwithstanding the absence of a certificate of appropriateness.
G. 
The Commission has the right to not review any application which is incomplete. Said review will not occur until such time as the application has been completed properly.
If the Commission disapproves an application and if the applicant refuses to resubmit his application, modifying the same by including the revisions recommended by the Commission, then the applicant shall have 10 days after issuance of the Commission decision to file an appeal with the Town Board. Such Board shall consider no facts beyond those contained in the application and the Commission decision and must render a decision within 30 days after the filing of the appeal.
[Amended 9-11-2017 by L.L. No. 3-2017]
A. 
Any owner of a designated building, structure or site or the same within a designated district who desires to maintain or repair the exterior of such building, structure or site for the purpose of returning such to the original condition has the right to maintain or repair with the same materials and in the same fashion without a certificate of appropriateness.
B. 
The Commission shall have no control over interior changes in any building or structure unless evidence of such change is apparent on the exterior of such building or structure.
C. 
Upon approval of an application and subsequent issuance of a certificate of appropriateness, nothing contained herein shall prohibit the utilization of modern materials and construction methods.
D. 
Nothing contained herein shall be construed as to require the owner of any presently existing building or structure, if designated historically significant pursuant to this chapter, to make any change in the exterior design or appearance of such building.
[Amended 9-11-2017 by L.L. No. 3-2017]
A. 
After a building, structure, site or district of such has been duly designated by the Commission as historically significant, the owner or owners of said building, structure, site or district of such shall be eligible for reimbursement for all or part of the general Town tax (see New York State Real Property Tax Law, Article 4, Title 2, § 444-a) as provided in a resolution of the Commission, subject to approval or disapproval by the Town Board.
B. 
The owner or owners of a building, structure, site or district of such shall be reimbursed for the proper and timely payment of only those taxes accruing after the date of the formal designation of said building, structure, site or district of such as historically significant.
A. 
Violation of any provision of this chapter is hereby declared to be an offense, as defined in the New York State Criminal Procedure Law, punishable by a term of imprisonment not to exceed 15 days or a fine not to exceed $250, or both.
B. 
Each and every week that a violation of this chapter is allowed to continue shall be considered a separate offense.
C. 
Nothing contained herein shall prevent further prosecution under other local laws of the Town of Lewiston or under the laws of the State of New York.