Township of Lower Merion, PA
Montgomery County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Commissioners of the Township of Lower Merion 6-16-2004 by Ord. No. 3714.[1] Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Numbering of buildings — See Ch. 64.
Contractor licensing — See Ch. 69.
Electrical standards — See Ch. 72.
Fire prevention — See Ch. 78.
Property maintenance — See Ch. 92.
Plumbing — See Ch. 115.
Security of buildings — See Ch. 123.
Stormwater management and erosion control — See Ch. 121.
Subdivision and land development — See Ch. 135.
Uniform Construction Code — See Ch. 143.
Zoning — See Ch. 155.
[1]
Editor's Note: This ordinance also repealed former Ch. 62, Building Construction, adopted 10-17-1990 by Ord. No. 3207, as amended.
A certain document, three copies of which have been and are presently on file in the office of the Township Secretary or the Building and Planning Department of the Township of Lower Merion, being marked and designated as the "International Building Code" published by the International Code Council and which has been adopted as the Building Code of the Township of Lower Merion as provided in Chapter 143 hereof, Uniform Construction Code, shall control the design, construction, alteration, enlargement, removal, demolition, equipment, repair, conversion, use and maintenance of all buildings and structures as herein provided, and each and all of the regulations of the International Building Code, except as provided in § 62-2, are hereby referred to, adopted and made a part hereof as if fully set out in this chapter, with the additions, insertions, deletions and changes, if any, prescribed in § 62-2 of this chapter.
Changes from the International Building Code to the Building Code of the Township of Lower Merion are as follows:
A. 
In Section 101.1, Title, insert "Lower Merion Township" in the [name of jurisdiction] blank.
B. 
In Section 1612.3, Establishment of flood hazard areas, insert "Township of Lower Merion" in the (name of jurisdiction) blank and "11-19-1975" in the (date of issuance) blank.
C. 
In Section 3410.2, Applicability, insert "3-16-1927" in the [date to be inserted by the jurisdiction] blank.
D. 
In Section 3407, Historic Buildings, add a new subsection 3407.3 to provide as follows:
[Amended 11-16-2005 by Ord. No. 3760; 3-16-2016 by Ord. No. 4080; 2-26-2020 by Ord. No. 4184]
3407.3 Special requirements for building permits – historic resources. The following special requirements shall apply to a building permit for an historic building, structure, object or site listed on the Historic Resource Inventory, Chapter A180. Where the historic resource is located in an historic district, the work of the Historical Commission under this section shall be performed by the Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB). Terms set forth herein shall be as defined in § 155-2.1
1.
Applicability of special requirements.
(a)
No Class I or Class II historic resource on the Historic Resource Inventory, Chapter A180 of the Lower Merion Township Code, may be demolished, in whole or in part, whether deliberately or by neglect, including the removal, stripping, concealing or destruction of any significant exterior architectural features, for whatever purpose, including new construction or reconstruction, unless a building permit therefor is obtained from the Director of Building and Planning in accordance with the procedures and requirements of this section and Chapter 88 and Chapter 155 of the Lower Merion Township Code.
(b)
Special requirements shall extend to demolition by neglect, which shall be defined as the failure to provide ordinary and necessary maintenance and repair to a building or structure located in an historic neighborhood, or to an historic resource, except for ruins existing at the time of adoption of this section, whether by ordinary negligence or willful neglect, purpose or design, by the owner or any party in possession thereof, which results in any of the following conditions:
(i)
The deterioration of exterior features so as to create or permit a hazardous or unsafe condition to exist.
(ii)
The deterioration of exterior walls, roofs, chimneys or windows; the lack of adequate waterproofing; or deterioration of interior features or foundations which will or could result in permanent damage or loss of exterior features.
(iii)
Demolition by neglect includes having a building or structure open or vulnerable to vandalism or decay by the elements. Unoccupied resources shall be securely sealed and barred off and the utilities turned off for safety as per the most current construction techniques for historic structures.
(c)
These provisions shall not be construed to prevent the ordinary maintenance or repair of any historic building, structure or site where such work does not otherwise require a permit and where the purpose and effect of such work is to correct any deterioration or decay of, or damage to, a building, structure or site and to restore the same to its condition prior to the occurrence of such deterioration, decay or damage.
2.
Procedure for obtaining building permit.
(a)
The applicant shall submit one copy of an application for a building permit to the Director of Building and Planning in a form acceptable to the Township. If the Director of Building and Planning determines that the permit request is for the demolition of a building, structure or site on the Historic Resource Inventory, Chapter A180 of the Lower Merion Township Code, he shall not issue the building permit and the application shall be forwarded to the Historical Commission.
(b)
Information to be provided. In addition to the other requirements of this section, an applicant seeking a permit to demolish an historic resource on the Historic Resource Inventory shall provide the following information:
(i)
Name and address of owner of record.
(ii)
Site plan showing all buildings and structures on the property.
(iii)
Recent photographs of the resource proposed for demolition.
(iv)
Reasons for the demolition.
(v)
Proposed method of demolition.
(vi)
Intended future use of the site and of the materials from the demolished resource.
(vii)
Historic resource impact study, as provided in § 155-7.1J, unless the Director of Building and Planning determines all or a portion thereof not to be pertinent to the application.
(viii)
Where applicable, plans showing any proposed new construction or reconstruction.
(c)
Acceptance for filing. Where the Director of Building and Planning has determined that the permit request is for the demolition of a building, structure or site on the Historic Resource Inventory, Chapter A180 hereof, he shall have seven days from the date of submission of the application to check the plans and documents to determine if on their face they are in property form and contain all information required by this chapter. If defective, the application may be returned to the applicant within the seven-day period, with a statement of rejection; otherwise, it shall be deemed accepted for filing as of the date of submission. Acceptance for filing shall not, however, constitute a waiver of any deficiencies or irregularities. The applicant may appeal a decision by the Director of Building and Planning under this section to the Board of Commissioners.
3.
The applicant or the Director of Building and Planning shall, within 10 days from the filing of a complete application, post a notice on the property indicating that the owner has applied for a permit to demolish an historic resource on the property. The notice shall state whether the applicant intends to remove or substantially alter the resource or to construct a structure which may diminish the nature, extent or visual impact of the resource. The notice shall be posted on each street frontage of the premises with which the notice is concerned and shall be clearly visible to the public. Posting of a notice shall not be required in the event of an emergency which is determined by the Director of Building and Planning to require immediate action to protect the health or safety of the public.
4.
Review by Historical Commission. Within 45 days of receipt of a complete application from the Director of Building and Planning, the Historical Commission, at a regular or special meeting, shall review the application for demolition. The applicant will be notified of such meeting at least 10 days prior to its date and shall have the opportunity to present his reasons for filing the application. The Historical Commission shall consider the following:
(a)
The effect of demolition on the historical significance and architectural integrity of the resource in question and neighboring historic resources.
(b)
Whether the applicant has demonstrated that he has considered all alternatives to demolition.
(c)
Economic feasibility of adaptive reuse of the resource proposed for demolition.
(d)
Alternatives to demolition of the resource.
(e)
Whether the resource in its current condition presents a threat to public safety.
(f)
Whether the resource has been intentionally neglected.
(g)
Whether the retention of the resource would represent an unreasonable economic hardship.
(h)
Whether the proposal for demolition or construction complies with the most current version of the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties and Guidelines for Preserving, Rehabilitating & Reconstructing Historic Buildings.
5.
Where the Historical Commission determines that additional information is needed from the applicant in order to adequately address the issues enumerated in Section 110.5.2.4. above, request for such information shall be made, in writing, to the applicant prior to the expiration of the initial thirty-day review period.
6.
Historical Commission recommendation. Within 30 days following conclusion of the meeting and the receipt of additional requested information, the Historical Commission shall set forth its recommendations in a written report to the Board of Commissioners.
(a)
Immediate approval. After reviewing the building permit application with attachments, the Commission may recommend:
(i)
Approval of the permit, as provided under Section 110.5.3 below; or
(ii)
Conditional approval subject to the applicant providing appropriate documentation of the historical significance of the resource(s) prior to demolition, in the same manner as provided in Subsection 110.5.4.2 below.
(b)
Delay of demolition. Alternatively, the Commission may recommend delay of demolition in accordance with Section 110.5.4. below.
7.
Approval of building permit or delay of demolition by the Board of Commissioners.
(a)
Within 30 days after receiving the recommendation from the Historical Commission, the Board of Commissioners shall consider the application, together with the recommendations of the Historical Commission, and vote either to approve the application, approve the application with changes and/or conditions or defer its decision, affording a delay of demolition for up to 90 days as set forth in Section 110.5.4. below. The applicant shall be notified of the meeting of the Board at least 10 days prior to its date and shall have the opportunity to present his reasons for filing the application. Within five days after making its decision, the Board shall provide written communication of its decision to the applicant, the Historical Commission, and the Director of Building and Planning.
(b)
Issuance of building permit. Where the Board acts to approve the application, it shall authorize the Director of Building and Planning to issue the permit. Where the approval is granted with conditions attached, the Director of Building and Planning shall be authorized to issue the permit subject to those conditions.
8.
Delay of demolition.
(a)
The specified period of delay up to 90 days shall be used to provide an opportunity to engage in discussion with the applicant about alternatives to demolition of a Class I or Class II Historical Resource; to allow for appropriate documentation of the resource as set forth below; and/or for preparation of a financial analysis, as set forth below for Class I only. The Historical Commission or the Board of Historical Architectural Review shall make every effort to communicate with the applicant to inform him of the historical importance of the resource, its significance to the Township and alternatives to demolition (additional uses, etc.).
(b)
Documentation of historic resources. When ordering the delay of demolition, the Board of Commissioners may require the applicant to provide documentation of the resource proposed for demolition. Such documentation may include, as available, historical data, surveys and other data provided by local, state and federal historic preservation organizations and agencies; photographs; floor plans; measured drawings; archaeological surveys (if appropriate); and any other comparable form of documentation recommended by the Historical Commission. The extent of documentation required shall reasonably relate to the architectural quality and/or historical significance of the resource(s). Where necessary, the delay shall continue past the stipulated 90 days until the applicant has sufficiently satisfied the documentation requirements.
(c)
For Class II resources, the Historical Commission shall provide its recommendation on issuance of the permit to the Board of Commissioners not later than the end of the applicable one-hundred-five-day review period. The Board of Commissioners shall approve the application for demolition of Class II resource(s) in accordance with Section 110.5.3 above, within the applicable one-hundred-five-day review period, whether it receives a recommendation from the Historical Commission or not.
(d)
Special provisions for Class I resources.
(i)
In cases where the applicant specifically alleges that demolition is necessary due to undue economic hardship or the lack of a reasonable economic alternative, the Board of Commissioners may, during the period of delay, request that the applicant prepare and submit a financial analysis to the Board. Where required, such financial analysis should include the following information, as applicable and available:
(i.i)
Amount paid for the property.
(i.ii)
Date of purchase and party from whom purchased, including a description of the relationship, if any, whether business or familial, between the owner and the person from whom the property was purchased.
(i.iii)
Assessed value of the land and improvements thereon according to the most recent assessment.
(i.iv)
A pro forma financial statement prepared by an accountant or broker of record.
(i.v)
All appraisals obtained by the owner in connection with his purchase or financing of the property or during his ownership of the property, if any.
(i.vi)
Bona fide offers to sell or rent the property, the price asked and offers received, if any.
(i.vii)
Any consideration by the owner as to profitable, adaptive uses for the property and any other practical uses; incentives which could be offered by the Township to preserve the resource; and any input from local, state or federal historic preservation and architectural organizations or agencies.
(i.viii)
Where relevant, written estimates of the cost(s) of restoration and/or renovation from at least two professional restoration contractors.
(ii)
Historical Commission recommendation. Once the delay of demolition has expired, the Historical Commission shall review the application again together with any further documentation requested by the Board of Commissioners at its next regular meeting. The Commission may recommend to the Board of Commissioners approval of the permit or, where the Commission does not believe that the applicant has proven undue economic hardship or the lack of a reasonable alternative, recommend denial of the permit. The Commission shall communicate its recommendation, in writing, to the Board of Commissioners within 30 days of the expiration of the ninety-day delay period.
(iii)
Approval or denial of building permit for Class I resources after delay of demolition
(iii.i)
At its next regular meeting after receiving the recommendation from the Historical Commission, or at a special meeting if necessary to comply with Section (iii.iii) below, unless an extension of time has been granted by the applicant, the Board of Commissioners shall again consider the application, together with the recommendations of the Historical Commission and any further documentation which had been requested, and vote either to approve the application or to approve the application with changes as set forth in Section 110.5.3 above, or to deny the application as set forth below.
(iii.ii)
Denial of application. Where the Board acts to deny the application, a notice of denial shall be sent to the applicant indicating what changes in the plans and specifications, if any, would be sufficient to meet the standards of this section.
(iii.iii)
Action by the Board of Commissioners, including appropriate notification to the applicant, shall occur within 60 days of the expiration of the ninety-day delay period.