Town of Bedford, NY
Westchester County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Adopted 3-18-2003 by L.L. No. 1-2003; amended in its entirety 4-18-2017 by L.L. No. 1-2017]
This article shall be Article III of Chapter 71 of the Code of the Town of Bedford and may be cited as the "historic building Preservation Law of the Town of Bedford."
In accordance with § 96-a of the General Municipal Law of the State of New York, entitled "Protection of Historical Places, Buildings and Works of Art," and Article 5-K of the General Municipal Law of the State of New York, entitled "Historic Preservation," the Town Board of the Town of Bedford has authority to provide, by local law, certain regulations, special conditions and restrictions for the protection, enhancement; perpetuation and the use of buildings having special character or special historical or other aesthetic interest or value. Pursuant to such authority, the Town Board has adopted this article setting forth standards to be followed in determining whether a permit should be issued for work affecting an historic building.
A. 
Purpose. The Town of Bedford determines that the historical, archeological, architectural and cultural heritage of the Town is among the most important assets of the Town and that it should be preserved. Historic preservation offers residents of the Town a sense of orientation and civic identity, is fundamental to localized concern for the quality of life, and produces numerous economic benefits to the Town. The existence of irreplaceable buildings of historical, archeological, architectural and cultural significance is threatened by the forces of change. It is hereby declared to be the public policy and in the public interest of this Town to engage in a comprehensive program of historic building preservation to accomplish the following purposes:
(1) 
To promote the use, reuse and conservation of such buildings for the education, inspiration, welfare, recreation, prosperity and enrichment of the public;
(2) 
To promote and encourage the protection, enhancement and perpetuation of such buildings which have or represent distinctive elements of the Town's historical, archeological, architectural or cultural significance;
(3) 
To encourage and assist residents and local organizations of the Town to undertake preservation programs and activities;
(4) 
To foster civic pride in the beauty and accomplishments of the past through cooperation with residents and local organizations;
(5) 
To protect and enhance the Town's attractiveness to visitors and support and stimulate the Town's economy; and
(6) 
To ensure the harmonious, orderly and efficient growth and development of the Town.
B. 
Findings. The Town of Bedford was founded on December 23, 1680, when a group of New England Puritans from Stamford, Connecticut, purchased a three-square-mile tract of land known as the "Hopp Ground" from Chief Katonah and several other Native Americans. Bedford was originally part of Connecticut until King William of England issued a royal decree in 1700 declaring that Bedford was part of New York. The Town served as the wartime Westchester County seat during the Revolutionary War after the Battle of White Plains until it was burned by the British on July 11, 1779. After the Revolution, Bedford became one of the two seats of county government, alternating with White Plains until 1870. Bedford is rich with historic places and buildings such as Bedford Green, the Bedford Court House built in 1787, the John Jay Homestead, Caramoor, the 1920 Bedford Hills Community House, the 1927 Town House, as well as other historic buildings situated throughout the hamlets of Katonah, Bedford Hills and Bedford Village. To foster the preservation of historical buildings located within the Town of Bedford which are not already included as part of the Bedford Village Historic District or the Katonah Historic District, the following findings are hereby made:
(1) 
A substantial number of residential, commercial and accessory buildings are of great historical significance to the Town by reason of:
(a) 
Historic events which have taken place within, on or near them;
(b) 
Their age or association with historic or famed personages; or
(c) 
The fact that they are illustrative of events in periods of history of the Town and surrounding areas;
(2) 
It is further found that a number of residential, commercial and accessory buildings are of historical significance to the Town for their architectural and aesthetic value due to their representation of a style or period of architectural design of buildings which is significant to the Town's identity and which forms an integral part of the Town's environment; and
(3) 
In consideration of the Town's history and character, and in the interests of preservation of those areas within the Town which are of historical, archeological, architectural or cultural importance, the Town of Bedford enacts the within article.
The Historic Building Preservation Law shall apply in those areas comprising the Town of Bedford which are neither part of the hamlet of Bedford, commonly known as "Bedford Village," as shown on the map entitled "Bedford Village Historic District in the Town of Bedford," nor part of the hamlet of Katonah as shown on the map entitled "Katonah Historic District."
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
ADMINISTRATIVE PERMIT
A permit issued by the Director of Planning for the demolition of a Tier 2 historic building.
AS-OF-RIGHT ACTIONS
Actions affecting historic buildings that do not require review by the Historic Building Preservation Commission or the Director of Planning under this Historic Building Preservation Law.
A. 
As-of-right actions for Tier 1 historic buildings:
(1) 
Changes of paint color, roofing materials, gutters or leaders;
(2) 
Replacement of window sash, where frames, casings and openings are retained;
(3) 
Repairs in kind (matching materials and details);
(4) 
Changes to building interiors or landscapes;
(5) 
Changes to additions built within the last 75 years;
(6) 
Additions that result in an increase of less than 30% of the existing building floor area, that connect to the rear elevation, that are not visible from the public ways, that are not taller than the historic building, and that do not protrude forward of a primary façade.
B. 
As-of-right actions for Tier 2 historic buildings: All actions affecting Tier 2 historic buildings are as-of-right, exclusive of demolition, as defined in this article, which requires an administrative permit from the Director of Planning.
BUILDING
Any structure having a roof, supported by columns or by walls or self-supporting, and intended for the shelter, housing or enclosure of persons, animals or chattel.
BUILDING, ACCESSORY
A building subordinate to the principal building on the lot and used for purposes customarily incidental to that of said principal building. For purposes of this article, an accessory building must be at least 200 square feet for consideration as an historic building.
BUILDING INSPECTOR
The Town employee appointed by the Town Board and charged with the responsibility of administering and enforcing the New York State Fire Prevention and Building Code and related regulations pertaining to the demolition of structures and the use of land within the Town of Bedford.
DEMOLITION
The destruction, disassembly, replacement or relocation of more than 50% of the total exterior wall surface or more than 50% of the total structural frame of an historic building; or any actions that result in the above over a five-year period.
DIRECTOR OF PLANNING
The individual designated by the Town Board to carry out the responsibilities assigned to the Director of Planning under this article. The Director of Planning or Town Board designee shall have relevant training and experience in historic preservation, preferably including a minimum of 10 years' experience in a position with responsibility for the management of historic resources.
DWELLING
A building, or portion thereof, used principally as nontransient living quarters for one or more families. The term shall not include an automobile court, hotel, motel, boardinghouse, trailer, mobile home, tourist home or tent.
HISTORIC BUILDING
A dwelling, commercial building, or accessory building with a footprint of at least 200 square feet that contributes to the historic character of Bedford and that is listed on the Survey of Historic Buildings adopted by the Town Board. [1]Historic buildings shall be identified and categorized according to the following criteria:
A. 
Tier 1 historic buildings. The Town Board shall categorize an individual property as a Tier 1 historic building if it:
(1) 
Was constructed in 1900 or earlier and is substantially intact; or
(2) 
Is listed on the National Register of Historic Places; or
(3) 
Exemplifies or possesses special character, or historic or aesthetic interest of value as part of the political, economic or social history of Bedford, with particular attention to properties that are representative of significant aspects of local history such as those associated with:
(a) 
The relocation of old Katonah or the Katonah Land Company; or
(b) 
The agrarian past (e.g., small farm houses, barns and outbuildings, characteristic proximity to the road); or
(c) 
The late 19th Century or early 20th Century estate periods; or
(4) 
Is identified with persons or events significant in local, state or national history; or
(5) 
Embodies the distinguishing characteristics of a type, period or method of construction or design style or is representative of the work of a known designer, architect or builder; or
(6) 
Represents an established and familiar feature of the community by virtue of its unique location or singular physical characteristic.
B. 
Tier 2 historic buildings. The Town Board shall categorize an individual property as a Tier 2 historic building if it is of historic or architectural importance to the Town of Bedford but of lesser significance or less intact than Tier 1 historic buildings, including properties that make a distinctive contribution to the overall historic and visual character of Bedford by virtue of location on an historic road or in an historic neighborhood.
C. 
Unregulated historic buildings. The Town Board shall categorize an individual property as an "unregulated historic building" if, though not meeting the criteria for Tier 1 or Tier 2, including properties substantially compromised, it nonetheless contributes to the historic character of the Town. Unregulated historic buildings are not subject to regulation under this article; however, owners may be eligible for incentives upon voluntary application to the Commission and adherence to its recommendations.
HISTORIC BUILDING PRESERVATION COMMISSION or COMMISSION
The Town of Bedford Historic Building Preservation Commission.
HISTORIC RESOURCE REVIEW REQUEST
A request submitted by a property owner to the Commission requesting a review of the inclusion or assigned category of an historic building on the Survey.
NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES
A listing of buildings, sites and objects designated for historical, architectural or other special significance, as determined by established criteria, and which listing is maintained by the National Park Service under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended. The program is administered by the State Historic Preservation Office at the state level.
PRESERVATION
Retention of essential character of art improvement, object, building, natural feature or structure as embodied in its existing form, integrity and material. This term may include temporary stabilization work, as well as ongoing maintenance of historic building materials.
RESTORATION
Recovery of the form and details of a building, structure or improvement and its site during a particular time.
SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR'S STANDARDS FOR THE TREATMENT OF HISTORIC PROPERTIES
Principles developed by the National Park Service (36 CFR 68.3, as may be amended) to help protect historic properties by promoting consistent preservation practices and providing guidance to historic building owners and building managers, preservation consultants, architects, contractors, and project reviewers on how to approach the treatment of historic properties.
SUBSTANTIAL ALTERATION
The significant removal or alteration of historic form, material or details of a Tier 1 historic building's exterior; including the construction of additions that are taller than the historic building, or that align with or protrude forward of the wall plane of a primary façade. Actions defined as "as-of-right" actions are not considered substantial alterations.
SURVEY OF HISTORIC BUILDINGS or THE SURVEY
A written inventory of all dwellings, commercial buildings, and accessory buildings located within the Town of Bedford proposed by the Commission and designated by the Town Board as historic buildings in the "Survey of Historic Buildings," as adopted on April 18, 2017, and amended from time to time pursuant to § 71-25 of this article. The April 18, 2017, inventory adopted by the Town Board as part of this article is attached hereto and made a part hereof.[2]
[1]
Editor's Note: The Survey of Historic Buildings is an attachment to this chapter.
[2]
Editor's Note: The Survey of Historic Buildings is an attachment to this chapter.
A. 
The Town Board shall appoint a commission to be known as the "Town of Bedford Historic Building Preservation Commission" to administer this article.
B. 
The Commission shall consist of five residents of the Town of Bedford, who shall be appointed by the Town Board and who shall serve three-year terms. The first appointments shall be established as follows: one one-year term, two two-year terms and two three-year terms. Vacancies shall be filled by the Supervisor with approval of the Town Board in the same manner provided for other appointments. The Town Board shall appoint a Chairperson for a one-year term.
C. 
Membership shall be composed of the following individuals: There shall be at least one member from each of the three hamlet areas. At least one member shall be an architect; one member shall be a second architect, a land use planner, a real estate professional, or a member of the construction industry; and one member shall be the Town Historian or another individual familiar with the historic character of the Town of Bedford. Insofar as possible, one member shall be a member or designee of the Bedford Village Historic District Commission and one member shall be a member or designee of the Katonah Historic District Commission.
D. 
The Commission shall adopt procedural rules for conducting its business in accordance with the provisions of this article.
A. 
The Commission shall be responsible for helping to maintain the historic character of the areas of the Town within its jurisdiction. Unless otherwise specified herein, the duties of the Commission shall be as follows:
(1) 
To adopt any other criteria not provided in this article for the identification of significant historical, architectural, archeological or cultural buildings;
(2) 
To approve or disapprove applications for permits, subject to review by the Town Board pursuant to this article;
(3) 
To inform owners of property within the Town of the provisions of this article on a periodic basis;
(4) 
To compile and maintain a photographic inventory of historic buildings within the Town;
(5) 
To create, maintain and update the Survey adopted by the Town Board;
(6) 
To formulate and publish recommendations concerning the preparation of maps, brochures and historical markers for selected historical sites and buildings;
(7) 
To cooperate with and advise the Town Board and other public and private agencies in matters involving historic sites and buildings; and
(8) 
To make recommendations to the Town Board regarding the adoption of financial incentives for owners of historic buildings, and for awards recognizing outstanding preservation efforts by property owners.
B. 
Additionally, the Commission may undertake the following:
(1) 
Increase public awareness of the value of historic, architectural, archeological and cultural preservation by developing and participating in public information programs in conjunction with other public and private organizations;
(2) 
Cooperate with the Town Board and other Town departments, boards, agencies or commissions by requesting and providing appropriate information, cooperation, assistance or studies; and
(3) 
Recommend to the Town Board appropriate utilization of grants from federal, state, and county agencies, private groups and individuals and the utilization of budgetary appropriations to promote the preservation of historic buildings.
C. 
Within the limits of its funds, the Commission may obtain the services of qualified persons to direct, advise and assist the Commission and may obtain equipment, supplies and other material necessary to its effective operation.
D. 
The Commission shall meet at least monthly if any business is pending. Meetings may be held at any time on the written request of any Commission member.
E. 
A quorum for a transaction of business shall consist of a majority of the Commission members, but not less than the majority of the full authorized membership may grant or deny an application for a permit; act on an historic resource review request; or otherwise recommend removal or amendment to the assigned category of an historic building on the Survey pursuant to § 71-25E of this article.
A. 
The Commission may, from time to time, recommend additional historic buildings to the Town Board for inclusion on the Survey. The Commission shall identify each proposed addition as a Tier 1, Tier 2, or unregulated historic building, and each proposed addition shall be accompanied by a report from an independent consultant describing the historic, architectural, archeological or cultural importance of the individual property.
B. 
The Town Board shall fix a reasonable time to hold a public hearing on any proposed historic buildings to be added to the Survey. Notice of the public hearing shall be published at least 10 days prior to the hearing in an official newspaper of the Town and shall be mailed at least 10 days prior to the hearing to all owners of subject properties.
C. 
Within 62 days after the close of the public hearing, the Town Board shall by resolution approve or disapprove the proposed historic building additions to the Survey. A copy of said resolution shall be mailed to the owners of the subject properties and filed with the Building Department and Town Clerk.
D. 
Any property owner wishing to appeal the inclusion or assigned category of an historic building on the Survey, may appeal such inclusion or assigned category at any time by submitting a historic resource review request to the Commission, specifying the grounds for seeking review.
E. 
The Commission shall act on historic resource review requests or may take other actions from time to time to:
(1) 
Remove an historic building from the Survey; or
(2) 
Recategorize an historic building from Tier 1 to Tier 2, or to "unregulated historic building"; or
(3) 
Recategorize an historic building from Tier 2 to "unregulated historic building."
F. 
Such action described in Subsection E of this section shall take place at a regularly scheduled meeting of the Commission. Any such amendments proposed by the Commission shall be reviewed by the Town Board. The Town Board may, after due notice and public hearing, approve such amendments. Any approved amendments shall be sent by the Commission to the owners of the subject properties, and filed with the Building Department and Town Clerk.
A. 
Once the Building Inspector has received an application for any permit, he or she must initially determine whether or not the building which is the subject of the application is listed on the Survey. If the Building Inspector determines that the building is listed on the Survey and is classified as a Tier 1 or Tier 2 historic building, the Building Inspector shall require the applicant to complete a project information form attesting to the project's scope of work. The project information form shall be accompanied by plans and be in sufficient detail for the Building Inspector to have full knowledge of the proposed work. Modified applications may be treated as new applications. The Building Inspector shall review each application to ascertain whether, based on the proposed scope of work and Tier classification, it shall be referred to the Commission or the Director of Planning for a determination. This determination shall be in addition to, and not in lieu of, any other required permit or approval.
B. 
Tier 1 historic buildings.
(1) 
Applications for proposed alterations to Tier 1 historic buildings where work is not limited to as-of-right actions shall be referred by the Building Inspector to the Commission to make a determination as to whether the proposed work constitutes substantial alteration or demolition and, if so, whether a permit should be issued.
(2) 
Upon referral from the Building Inspector of an application for proposed alteration or demolition of a Tier 1 historic building, the Commission shall notify the applicant of his/her right to submit evidence and proof in support of the application. Once this information is received, the Commission shall fix a reasonable time to hold a public hearing on each application for a permit. Notice of the public hearing shall be published at least 10 days prior to the hearing in an official newspaper of the Town and shall be mailed by the applicant at least 10 days prior to the hearing to all owners of lots within 500 feet of the perimeter of the subject lot. The expense of publishing and mailing any notice required by this article shall be paid by the applicant, and the applicant must file with the Town Clerk an affidavit of mailing with a list of the names of the owners of record of the property within the 500 feet, together with the section, block and lot number of each, with such written notice prior to the public hearing. The Commission, applicant, and any interested parties may present testimony or documentary evidence at the hearing, which will become part of the record regarding the historic, architectural, archeological or cultural importance of the subject building.
(3) 
Notwithstanding the procedure set forth in Subsection B(2), above, the Commission may waive the holding of a public hearing and, instead, hold a conference with the applicant and/or its representative to determine whether a permit should be issued. Such conference shall be held at a regularly scheduled meeting of the Commission.
C. 
Tier 2 historic buildings. Applications for proposed demolition of Tier 2 historic buildings shall be referred by the Building Inspector to the Director of Planning for review to determine whether to issue an administrative permit for demolition.
D. 
(Reserved)[1]
[1]
Editor’s Note: Former Subsection D, Professional consulting services; reimbursement, was repealed 3-26-2018 by L.L. No. 2-2018.
E. 
The determination of the Commission or the Director of Planning shall be in writing and shall be filed with the Town Clerk, Building Inspector, and the applicant within 30 calendar days from the close of the public hearing or conference on an application for alteration or demolition of a Tier 1 historic building, and within 30 calendar days from the receipt of a complete application for demolition of a Tier 2 historic building.
(1) 
If the Commission or Director of Planning determines that a permit should be issued, its determination shall so state and set forth its reasons for such determination.
(2) 
If the Commission or the Director of Planning determines that a permit shall be issued with conditions, its determination shall so state and set forth its reasons for such determination. Failure to comply with such conditions may result in penalties pursuant to § 71-29 of this article and/or revocation of the permit.
(3) 
If the Commission or the Director of Planning determines that a permit should not be issued, it shall so state and set forth its reasons for such determination.
F. 
In arriving at its determination, the Commission or the Director of Planning shall consider, in addition to any other pertinent factors, the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties and the following principles in assessing whether the historical, architectural, archeological or cultural significance of the subject building outweighs any special circumstances or potential hardships posed to the applicant.
(1) 
Properties that contribute to the historic character of the Town shall be retained, with their historic features altered as little as possible.
(2) 
Any alterations or additions to existing properties shall be compatible with their historic character and with the surrounding area. In applying the principle of compatibility, the Commission or Director of Planning shall consider the following factors:
(a) 
The general design, character, and scale of the proposed alteration or addition relative to existing features of the property, surrounding properties, and the neighborhood;
(b) 
Visual compatibility with surrounding properties, including proportion of the property's front façade, proportion and arrangement of windows and other openings within the façade, roof shape, and the rhythm of spacing of properties on streets, including setback; and
(c) 
The importance of historic physical and visual features to the significance of the property.
A. 
Town Board review.
(1) 
Any determination, decision, or order of the Commission or the Director of Planning made pursuant to or within the scope of this article may be reviewed by the Town Board at the request of any person aggrieved thereby, provided that such review is commenced by the filing of a notice of appeal to the Town Board within 30 days after the Commission files with the Town Clerk its determination. Such notice of appeal shall specify the grounds for seeking review.
(2) 
In making its determination on the appeal, the Town Board shall review the written determination of the Commission or the Director of Planning in conjunction with the permit application and the criteria set forth in § 71-26F, and consider the appropriateness of the alteration or demolition as well as the health, safety, morals and general welfare of the Town, with particular attention given to the needs of the residents and industries within the historic area or any special circumstances or hardship that the applicant may choose to bring forward.
B. 
Based on its determination of appeal, the Town Board shall issue a written determination directing the Building Inspector to issue or deny a permit to the applicant.
C. 
If no person appeals, the determination of the Commission becomes final and binding upon the applicant and Building Inspector.
Any determination, decision, or order of the Town Board under this article may be judicially reviewed, pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules, in the Supreme Court for Westchester County if commenced within 30 days of the filing of the Town Board's determination. The court may take evidence as it may direct and report the same with its findings of fact and conclusions of law, if it shall appear that testimony is necessary for the proper disposition of the matter. The court at special term shall itself dispose of the cause on the merits, determining all questions which may be presented for determination.
A. 
In case any building is altered or demolished, either partially or wholly, as set forth, pursuant to this article, either by proceeding without a permit or contrary to approved plans and specifications for which a permit is issued, the Building Inspector shall issue a stop-work order and serve same upon the owner of record, a tenant in possession and any contractor or subcontractor working at the subject premises.
B. 
Failure to comply with any of the provisions of this article shall be deemed a violation, and the violator shall be liable to a fine of not more than $250 or to imprisonment for not more than 15 days, or both. Each day that such violation continues shall constitute a separate violation.
C. 
In addition to the foregoing, the Town shall have such other remedies for any violation or threatened violation of this article as now or hereafter may be provided by law, including but not limited to prosecution in the Town Court of the Town of Bedford and proceeding in the Supreme Court in an action for an injunction to restrain any violation of this article and further in an action in Supreme Court for an injunction to order removal in whole or in part of any exterior architectural feature in existence in violation of this article or for reconstruction or restoration as may be necessary to restore the building to its appearance prior to the violation.
Where this article imposes greater restrictions than are imposed by the provisions of any law, ordinance, or regulation, the provisions of this article shall apply. Where greater restrictions are imposed by any other law, ordinance or regulation, such greater restrictions shall apply.
If any section, clause or provision of this article or the application thereof to any person is adjudged invalid, the adjudication shall not affect other sections, clauses or provisions or the application thereof which can be sustained or given effect without the invalid section, clause or provision or application, and, to this end, the various sections, clauses or provisions of this article are declared to be severable.
This article shall take effect immediately upon filing in the office of the Secretary of State of the State of New York in the manner prescribed by law.