[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Meeting of the Town of Southborough 4-14-2015 ATM by Art. 29. Amendments noted where applicable.]
This bylaw is enacted for the purpose of protecting and preserving significant buildings and structures within the Town of Southborough which constitute or reflect distinctive features of the architectural or historical resources of the Town, and to encourage owners of such buildings and structures to seek out alternative options to preserve, rehabilitate or restore such buildings rather than to demolish them, thereby promoting the public welfare and preserving the cultural heritage of the Town.
To achieve these purposes, the Southborough Historical Commission is authorized to advise the Building Inspector 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 by this bylaw.
- BUILDING INSPECTOR
- The person occupying the office of Building Inspector or otherwise authorized to issue demolition permits.
- BUILDINGS AND STRUCTURES
- Any combination of materials forming a shelter for persons, animals, or property that constitute the historic built environment of the Town.
- The Southborough Historical Commission.
- Any act of pulling down, destroying, removing or razing a building or commencing the work of total or substantial exterior destruction with the intent of completing the same.
- DEMOLITION BY NEGLECT
- A process of ongoing damage to the features, 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.
- DEMOLITION PERMIT
- The permit issued by the Building Inspector for a demolition, substantial demolition or removal of a building, excluding a demolition permit issued solely for the demolition of the interior of a building.
- HISTORICALLY OR ARCHITECTURALLY SIGNIFICANT BUILDING
- Any building, in whole or in part, which was constructed prior to 1925 and is included in the Southborough Massachusetts Historic Properties Survey prepared by the Commission in 2000 (with revisions and updates in 2015) on file with the Town Clerk's office.
- PREFERENTIALLY PRESERVED
- Any historically or architecturally significant building which the Commission determines is in the public interest to be preserved or rehabilitated rather than to be demolished.
No permit for the demolition of a historically or architecturally significant building shall be issued other than in conformity with the provisions of this bylaw, as well as in conformity with the provisions of other laws applicable to the demolition of buildings and the issuance of permits generally.
Application contents: Every application for a demolition permit for a historically or architecturally significant building shall be filed with the Building Inspector and shall contain the following information: (i) the address of the building to be demolished; (ii) the owner's name, address and telephone number; (iii) a brief description of the type of building and the condition requiring issuance of the permit; (iv) date of building as established by the Board of Assessors, deed or documentation verifying year of construction; and (v) a brief description of the proposed reuse, reconstruction or replacement on the premises upon which the building is located.
Within seven business days from receipt of an application for a demolition permit of a historically or architecturally significant building, the Building Inspector shall forward a copy to the Commission. No demolition permit shall be issued during this time.
Within 10 business days after receipt of the application for demolition permit by the Commission, the Commission shall make a determination of architectural and/or historical significance based upon the federal Secretary of the Interior's standards for historic buildings. Upon determination by the Commission that the building is not architecturally and/or historically significant, the Commission shall so notify the Building Inspector in writing. Upon receipt of such notification, or after the expiration of 15 business days from the date of submission to the Commission, if the Building Inspector has not received notification from the Commission, the Building inspector may issue the demolition permit.
Upon determination by the Commission that the building is historically and/or architecturally significant, the Building Inspector and applicant shall be so notified in writing, and a demolition permit shall not be issued. The Commission shall hold a public hearing within 45 business days of the determination of significance to determine whether the building should be preferentially preserved. Public notice of the time, place and purpose of the hearing shall be published by the Building Department at the expense of the applicant in a newspaper of general circulation in the Town not less than seven days before the day of said hearing and shall be posted in a conspicuous place in the Town Hall for a period of not less than seven days before the day of said hearing.
[Amended 3-23-2019 ATM by Art. 26]
If after a public hearing the Commission determines that the significant building should not be preferentially preserved, the Commission shall notify the Building Inspector, in writing, within five business days of the hearing, and the Building Inspector may issue a demolition permit upon receipt of the written decision.
If after a public hearing the Commission determines that the significant buildings should be preferentially preserved, the Commission shall so notify the Building Inspector in writing within five business days of the hearing, and no demolition permit may be issued until nine months after the date of the determination by the Commission.
Notwithstanding anything contained in Subsection G, the Building Inspector may issue a demolition permit for a preferably preserved building at any time after receipt of written advice from the Commission to the effect that either:
The 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 building; or
The Commission is satisfied that for at least nine months the owner has made continuing, bona fide and reasonable efforts to locate a purchaser to preserve, rehabilitate or restore the subject building, and that such efforts have been unsuccessful.
It shall be the responsibility of the owner of record or his designee to assist in the facilitation of the above process by providing information, allowing access to the property and securing the premises; for participating in the investigation of preservation options; and for actively cooperating in seeking alternatives with the Commission and any interested parties.
Nothing in this bylaw shall prohibit the Building Inspector from immediately ordering the demolition of any building in the event of imminent danger to the safety of the public pursuant to the applicable standards under the State Building Code.
If the Building Inspector has reason to believe, through visual inspection or other means, that a significant building may be undergoing demolition by neglect, then the Building Inspector shall notify the Commission and the owner, and the Commission and the Building Inspector 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 Commission. In furtherance of determining its condition, the Commission may, at any time, request an inspection of the building by the Building Inspector.
If the Commission and the Building Inspector agree that the building is undergoing demolition by neglect, the Commission and the Building Inspector 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. The Building Inspector will report the result to the Commission.
In the event that the Building Inspector determines that he 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 to satisfactorily complete such repairs in a timely manner, then the Building Inspector may take such action as is permitted, 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 Building Inspector may forbear from commencing an action in court for any reason and will preferentially consider any claim of undue economic hardship by the owner.
Upon completion of all repairs that have been agreed upon between the owner and the Building Inspector or that have been ordered by the Building Inspector, or that have been ordered by the court, and upon certification by the Building Inspector that said repairs have been completed, the Building Inspector shall certify that the building is no longer undergoing demolition by neglect.
The Building Inspector is specifically authorized to institute any and all actions and proceedings, in law or equity, as he or she may deem necessary and appropriate to obtain compliance with the requirements of this bylaw or to prevent a threatened 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 years after the date of the completion of such demolition. As used herein, "premises" refers to the parcel of land upon which the demolished significant building was located and all adjoining parcels of land under common ownership or control.
Nothing in this bylaw shall be deemed to conflict with the provisions of the Historic Districts Act, MGL c. 40C. If any of the provisions of this bylaw do so conflict, that Act shall prevail.
The Historical Commission is authorized to promulgate from time to time rules and regulations it deems necessary to administer the bylaw that are not inconsistent with applicable state law.
If any provision, section, paragraph, sentence or word or other part of the bylaw provisions, for any reason, is determined by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, unenforceable or unconstitutional, then it is the intent of this bylaw for Home Rule purposes that the remaining provisions continue in full force and effect.