Town of Westwood, MA
Norfolk County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Annual Town Meeting of the Town of Westwood 5-2-2016 by Art. 22. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The purpose of this bylaw is to maintain the character of the Town of Westwood, protecting its historic and aesthetic resources built on or before December 31, 1910, by surveying, preserving, rehabilitating, researching, or restoring, whenever possible, buildings or structures which constitute or reflect distinctive features of the architectural, cultural, or historic resources of the Town, thereby promoting the public welfare and preserving the cultural heritage of Westwood. The intent of this bylaw is to encourage owners to seek alternative options to preserve historic buildings rather than complete demolition. This bylaw authorizes the Westwood Historical Commission to advise the Building Commissioner with respect to demolition permits for historic properties regulated by this bylaw.
As used in this bylaw, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
APPLICANT
Any person or entity who files an application for a demolition permit. If the applicant is not the owner of the premises upon which the building is situated, the owner must indicate on or with the application his/her assent to the filing of the application.
APPLICATION
An application for a demolition permit filed by the owner of record of the premises, or the holder of a bona fide purchase and sale agreement for such premises. The application must be signed by both the applicant and (if different) the owner of record at the time of application. An applicant may withdraw an application without prejudice at any time prior to a decision by the Commission.
BUILDING
A structure enclosed by exterior walls or firewalls, built, erected and framed of a combination of any materials, whether portable or fixed, having a roof, to form a structure for the shelter of persons, animals or property. For the purposes of this definition, "roof" shall include an awning or any similar covering, whether or not permanent in nature.
COMMISSION
The Westwood Historical Commission.
COMMISSIONER
The Building Commissioner of the Town of Westwood.
DEMOLITION
Any act of pulling down, destroying, removing or razing a building and/or structure or commencing the work of total or substantial destruction with the intent of completing the project; "substantial" herein shall mean either half the volume of the structure or half the assessed value. Demolition regulated hereunder shall not include replacement of roofing materials, siding, stairs, railings, windows, or similar features, nor shall it include demolition of non-historic additions or accessory structures.
DEMOLITION PERMIT
The permit issued by the Commissioner as required by the State Building Code for the demolition or removal of a building or structure.
HISTORIC OR ARCHITECTURALLY SIGNIFICANT STRUCTURE
Any building or structure which is:
A. 
Importantly associated with one or more historic persons or events, or with the architectural, cultural, political, economic, or social history of the Town of Westwood, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, or the United States of America; or which is:
B. 
Historic or architecturally important by reason of period, style, method of construction, or association with a particular architect or builder, either by itself or in the context of a group of buildings or structures.
PREFERABLY PRESERVED
Any historic or architecturally significant structure individually or in context which, because of the important contribution made by such structure to the Town's historic or architectural resources, is in the public interest to preserve, rehabilitate, or restore.
PREMISES
The parcel of land on which an historic or architecturally significant structure exists.
STRUCTURE
An assembly of materials forming a construction for occupancy or use, including, among others, buildings, stadiums, gospel and circus tents, reviewing stands, platforms, staging, observation towers, communication towers, flag poles, water tanks, trestles, piers, wharfs, open sheds, coal bins, shelters, fences and display signs, tanks in excess of 500 gallons used for the storage of any fluid other than water and swimming pools.
The provisions of this bylaw shall apply to only the following buildings and structures:
A. 
Buildings and structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places or the State Register of Historic Places, including contributing properties within the Colburn School Historic District and the Fisher School Historic District.
B. 
Buildings and structures which in whole or in part were constructed on or before December 31, 1910.
A. 
Upon receipt of an application for a demolition permit for a building or structure regulated by this bylaw, the Commissioner shall within seven days transmit a copy thereof to the Commission. No demolition permit shall be issued except in conformance with the provisions of this section.
B. 
A public hearing shall be conducted by the Commission within 20 days of receipt of the application for demolition permit by the Commission, and shall be closed within 10 days of the opening of said hearing. Failure to open or close the hearing within these prescribed time periods shall be deemed to constitute constructive approval by the Commission, and in such case, the Commissioner shall, subject to the requirements of the State Building Code and any other applicable laws, bylaws, rules and regulations, issue the demolition permit.
C. 
The Commissioner shall give notice of the public hearing by publishing at least five days before the hearing an announcement in a local newspaper of the time, place, and purpose of the hearing. The Commissioner shall also transmit a copy of said notice to the applicant, to the owner of record (if different from the applicant), to the owners of all properties within 300 feet of the subject property, to the Westwood Historical Society, and to any others the Commissioner deems necessary to notice. In cases where it is known that additional approvals will be required for the proposed redevelopment of the premises, including zoning variances, special permits, and/or subdivision approvals, notice of the Commission's public hearing shall be provided to the authority responsible for granting said approvals.
D. 
If, following the public hearing, the Commission determines that the building or structure proposed for demolition is not an historic or architecturally significant structure, or that the proposed demolition of the building or structure would not be detrimental to the purposes protected by this bylaw, the Commission shall notify the Commissioner within five days of such determination. Upon receipt of such notification, or upon the expiration of five days from the close of the hearing without such notification, the Commissioner shall, subject to the requirements of the State Building Code and any other applicable laws, bylaws, rules and regulations, issue the demolition permit.
E. 
If, following the public hearing, the Commission determines that (1) the building or structure is an historic or architecturally significant structure and (2) the demolition of this historic or architecturally significant structure would be detrimental to the historic or architectural resources of the Town, the Commission shall declare the building or structure a preferably preserved historic or architecturally significant structure. In making such a determination, the Commission will consider any information submitted by the property owner or its representative outlining a significant hardship, financial, or otherwise, resulting from any delay that may be caused by the employment of this bylaw. The Commission shall notify the applicant and the Commissioner within five days of such determination. If the Commission determines the building or structure to be a preferably preserved building or structure, then no demolition permit shall be issued for up to six months from the date of the original application. Furthermore even if the owner or the owner's representative fails to accord the Commission with that which the Commission desires or requires for determination (such as, but not limited to, entry into the structure), if six months from the date of the original application have passed, a demolition permit shall be promptly issued by the Building Commissioner subject to the requirements of the State Building Code and any other applicable laws, bylaws, rules and regulations.
F. 
Notwithstanding the above, prior to the expiration of the six-month waiting period, the Commissioner may issue a demolition permit for a preferably preserved historic or architecturally significant structure after receipt of written notice from the Commission that (a) the structure has been fully documented (at no cost to the property owner) to the satisfaction of the Commission, and that (b) all salvageable and valuable artifacts and materials have been or will be removed and preserved (at no cost to the property owner) to the satisfaction of the Commission, and that (c) any of the following applies:
(1) 
The Commission is satisfied that there is no reasonable likelihood that the applicant, owner, or some other reasonable person or group is willing to purchase, preserve, rehabilitate, restore, or relocate said building structure; or
(2) 
The Commission is satisfied that for up to six months from the date of the original application, including periods of time prior to the date of submission of an application for demolition permit, the owner has made continuing, bona fide, and reasonable efforts to locate a purchaser to preserve, rehabilitate, restore, or relocate said building or structure, and that such efforts have been unsuccessful; or
(3) 
The Commission is satisfied that the proposed demolition may be conducted in a manner that is not detrimental to the historic or architectural resources of the Town.
G. 
A decision by the Commission expires two years from the date of the decision and is transferable to a new property owner during this time period. If demolition has not occurred prior to the expiration of the Commission's decision, a new application for a demolition permit must be filed with the Commissioner, and reviewed by the Commission in accordance with the provisions of this section, prior to any subsequent demolition.
H. 
If a building or structure is determined to be a preferably preserved historic or architecturally significant structure, the owner shall be responsible for properly securing such building or structure, if vacant, to the satisfaction of the Commission. Should the owner fail to properly secure such building or structure, a subsequent destruction of such building or structure at any time during the period of the demolition delay through fire or other cause which could have been prevented by properly securing such building or structure shall be considered a voluntary demolition in violation of this bylaw and shall be subject to § 250A-6B.
Upon receipt of an application for an environmental impact and design review (EIDR) approval, a flexible multiple use overlay district (FMUOD) special permit, an earth material movement (EMM) special permit, a definitive subdivision approval, a senior residential development (SRD) special permit, or an open space residential development (OSRD) approval involving a parcel of land containing a building or structure regulated under § 250A-3, the granting authority shall transmit to the Commission a copy of the application for review and recommendation. Failure of the Commission to respond to the granting authority within 30 days of its receipt of such application shall be deemed to signify its lack of opposition to the project.
A. 
The Commission and the Commissioner are each authorized to institute any and all proceedings in law or in equity as they deem necessary and appropriate to obtain compliance with the requirements of this bylaw or to prevent a violation thereof.
B. 
No building permit shall be issued with respect to any premises upon which an historic or architecturally significant structure has been voluntarily demolished in violation of this bylaw for a period of two years after the date of the start or completion of such demolition.
C. 
Appeals to court. A person aggrieved by a decision of the Commission may appeal to a court of competent jurisdiction within 20 days after the Commission's decision has been filed with the Town Clerk. Notice of such action with a copy of the complaint shall be filed with the Town Clerk within said 20 days.
Any property owner or their designee may submit a pre-determination request directly to the Commission, in order to determine significance of their property prior to initiating a demolition permit application with the Building Inspector. Once a determination is made by the Commission, they shall submit their decision in writing to the Building Inspector's Department and the applicant. Such determination shall be recorded by the Building Inspector's Department with the intent of allowing any future application to proceed promptly through the demolition process in the case of a pre-determination that the structure is not significant. Such written predeterminations shall be considered valid, barring any relevant future changes to this bylaw regarding historic structures.
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.