Town of Watertown, MA
Middlesex County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Ord. 97, passed 10-28-1997]
This chapter is enacted for the purpose of preserving and protecting significant buildings within the town which are outside designated local Historic Districts and to encourage owners of the buildings to seek out persons who might be willing to purchase, preserve, rehabilitate or restore the buildings rather than demolish them. To achieve these purposes, the Watertown Historical Commission (the "Commission") is empowered to advise the Inspector of Buildings with respect to the issuance of permits for demolition of significant buildings. The issuance of demolition permits for significant buildings is regulated as provided in this chapter.
[Ord. 97, passed 10-28-1997]
(A) 
For the purpose of this chapter, the following definitions shall apply unless the context clearly indicates or requires a different meaning.
BUILDING
Any combination of materials forming a shelter for persons, animals or property.
COMMISSION
The Watertown Historical Commission.
DEMOLITION
Any act of pulling down, destroying, removing or razing a building, or commencing the work of total or substantial destruction with the intent of completing the same.
(1) 
Any building or portion thereof not within an Historic District but which:
(a) 
Is listed on, or is within an area listed on, the National Register of Historic Places, or is the subject of a pending application for listing on the National Register;
(b) 
Is included in an inventory prepared by the Commission, including those buildings listed for which complete surveys may be pending; or
(c) 
Has been 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 is within the broad architectural, cultural, political, economic, or social history of the town or the commonwealth; or
(d) 
Which is 50 years old or older, and found to be historically significant; or
(e) 
Is located within 150 feet of a federal, state or local historic district or, is listed within the state, national, or local historical register.
(2) 
Except that, notwithstanding the foregoing, that portion of the Watertown Middle School formerly known as the Marshall-Spring School shall not be considered a significant building subject to this chapter.
[Ord. 97, passed 10-28-1997; amended Ord. 57, passed 9-12-2006]
(A) 
(1) 
For any application for a demolition permit of a significant building, the Inspector of Buildings shall forward a copy thereof to the Commission within five business days of receipt. No demolition permit shall be issued at that time.
(2) 
Every application for a demolition permit for a building shall contain the following information:
(a) 
The applicant's name, address and interest in the property;
(b) 
The owner's name and address if different than the applicants;
(c) 
The address or location of the building to be demolished;
(d) 
A brief description of the type of building and the condition requiring issuance of a permit; and
(e) 
A brief description of the proposed reuse, reconstruction or replacement of the premises upon which the building is located.
(B) 
The Commission shall within 45 days of receipt hold a hearing on any demolition permit application forwarded to it and shall give public notice thereof by publishing notice of the time, place, and purpose of the hearing in a local newspaper at least 14 days before the hearing and also, within seven days of the hearing, mail a copy of the notice to the applicant, to the owners of all property deemed by the Commission to be affected thereby as they appear on the most recent local tax list, and to the other persons as the Commission shall deem entitled to notice.
(C) 
If, after the 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 Inspector of Buildings within 10 business days of the hearing. Upon receipt of the notification, or after the expiration of 35 days from the date of the hearing if he or she has not received notification from the Commission, the Inspector of Buildings may, subject to the requirements of the State Building Code and any other applicable laws, by-laws, rules and regulations, issue the demolition permit.
(D) 
If the Commission determines that the demolition of the significant building would be detrimental to the historical architectural heritage or resources of the town, the building shall be considered a preferably-preserved significant building.
(E) 
Upon a determination by the Commission that the significant building, which is the subject of the application for a demolition permit, is a preferably-preserved significant building, the Commission shall, within 30 days of the hearing, so advise the applicant and the Inspector of Buildings by written notice, and no demolition permit may be issued until at least 12 months after the date of the determination by the Commission.
(F) 
Notwithstanding the preceding division (E), the Inspector of Buildings 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 either:
(1) 
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 the building; or
(2) 
The Commission is satisfied that for at least six months the owner has made continuing bona fide and reasonable efforts to locate a purchaser to preserve, rehabilitate and restore the subject building, and that the efforts have been unsuccessful.
[Ord. 97, passed 10-28-1997]
(A) 
The Commission and the Inspector of Buildings 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 chapter, or to prevent a violation thereof, or to require restoration of the premises to their condition prior to the violation.
(B) 
No building permit shall be issued with respect to any premises upon which a significant building has been voluntarily demolished in violation of this chapter for a period of two years after the date of the completion of the demolition. As used herein, "premises" includes the parcel of land upon which the demolished significant building was located.
(C) 
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, to the satisfaction of the Inspector of Buildings. Should the owner fail to secure the building, the loss of the building through fire or other cause shall be considered voluntary demolition for the purposes of division (B) of this section.
[Ord. 97, passed 10-28-1997]
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to derogate the authority of the Inspector of Buildings derived from Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 143. However, before acting pursuant to this chapter, the Inspector of Buildings shall make every reasonable effort to inform the Chairperson of the Historical Commission of his or her intentions to cause demolition before he or she initiates the same.
[Ord. 97, passed 10-28-1997]
Anyone who demolishes a significant building without first obtaining and complying fully with the provisions of a demolition permit in accordance with this chapter will be subject to a fine of $300 for each day that the violation continues, in addition to any fine that may be imposed for failure to comply with the State Building Code.