[HISTORY: Adopted by the Annual Town Meeting of the Town of Groton 4-24-2006 by Art. 15. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Demolition Delay Bylaw is enacted for the purpose of preserving and protecting significant buildings within the Town of Groton which are outside Local Historic Districts. Such buildings reflect distinctive features of the architectural, cultural, economic, political or social history of the Town, and their preservation protects these historic architectural assets which contribute to the overall culture of the community.
The intent of the bylaw is to provide an opportunity to develop preservation solutions for distinctive and preserved historic properties threatened with demolition. The bylaw is intended to encourage owners and townspeople, with assistance from the Groton Historical Commission, to seek out persons who might be willing to purchase, preserve, rehabilitate or restore such buildings rather than demolish them, and to limit the detrimental effect of demolition on the historical architectural resources of the Town. To achieve these purposes, the Groton Historical Commission is empowered to advise the Building Inspector with respect to the issuance of permits for demolition of significant buildings, and, where appropriate and consistent with the intent and purpose of this chapter, to allow demolition under conditions designed to minimize the loss of distinctive features of significant buildings.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Any person or persons who is either the owner or legally representing the owner and applying for a permit to demolish any building or structure.
- A structure enclosed within exterior walls or firewalls, built, erected and framed of a combination of any materials to form a structure for the shelter of persons, animals or property.
- BUILDING INSPECTOR
- The Town of Groton Building Commissioner, who is charged with the administration and enforcement of the State Building Code, 780 CMR, and is authorized to issue demolition permits.
- The Groton Historical Commission, which is charged with the identification, documentation and preservation of the historical resources of Groton.
- Any act of pulling down, destroying, removing, razing or moving a building or commencing the work of moving or of total or substantial destruction with the intent of completing the same.
- DEMOLITION PERMIT
- The permit issued by the Building Inspector as required by the State Building Code for the demolition, substantial demolition or removal of a building.
- HISTORICALLY OR ARCHITECTURALLY SIGNIFICANT BUILDING
- Any building which, in whole or in part, is at least 75 years old, or is of unknown age and:
- A. Is listed on, or is a contributing building within an area listed on, the National Register of Historic Places, or is the subject of a pending application for such listing, or is eligible for such listing; or
- B. Is included in the Cultural Resources Inventory prepared by the Historical Commission; or
- C. Has been determined by vote of the Historical Commission to be a significant building after a finding by the Historical Commission that the building meets one or more of the following three criteria:
- (1) Historical importance. The building meets the criterion of historical importance if it:
- (a) Has character, interest or value as part of the development, heritage or cultural characteristics of the Town of Groton, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or the nation; or
- (b) Is the site of an historic event; or
- (c) Is identified with a person or group of persons who had significant influence on society; or
- (d) Exemplifies the cultural, political, economic, social or historic heritage of the community.
- (2) Architectural importance. The structure meets the criterion of architectural importance if it:
- (a) Portrays the environment of a group of people in an era of history characterized by a distinctive architectural style; or
- (b) Embodies those distinguishing characteristics of an architectural type; or
- (c) Is the work of an architect, master builder or craftsman whose individual work has influenced the development of the Town of Groton; or
- (d) Contains elements of architectural design, detail, materials or craftsmanship, which represents a significant innovation.
- (3) Geographic importance. The structure meets the criterion of geographic importance if:
No permit for the demolition of a significant building or part thereof shall be issued except as provided in this chapter, as well as in conformity with the provisions of other laws and bylaws applicable to the demolition of buildings and the issuance of permits generally.
Application contents. Every application for a demolition permit shall be filed with the Building Inspector and shall contain the following information:
The address of the building to be demolished;
The owner's name, address and telephone number;
A brief description of the type of building and the condition requiring issuance of the permit;
Age of building as established by the Board of Assessors, deed or documentation verifying year of construction.
Within seven days after receipt of any application for a demolition permit, the Building Inspector shall forward a copy to the Commission. No demolition permit shall be issued during this time.
Within 14 days after receipt of a copy of the application for demolition permit from the Building Inspector, the Historical Commission or its designee shall make a determination of architectural and/or historical significance ("determination of significance"). Upon determination by the Historical Commission that the building is not architecturally and/or historically significant, the Historical Commission shall so notify the Building Inspector and the applicant in writing. Upon receipt of such notification, or after the expiration of 25 days from the date of application submission to the Building Department if the Building Inspector has not received notification from the Historical Commission, the Building Inspector may issue the demolition permit. Upon determination by the Historical Commission that the building is historically and/or architecturally significant, the Building Inspector and the applicant shall be so notified by the Historical Commission in writing within 25 days from the date of application submission to the Building Department, and a demolition permit shall not be issued.
The Historical Commission shall hold a public hearing within 30 days of the determination of significance to determine whether the building should be preferably preserved. Public notice of the time, place and purpose of the hearing shall be published by the Historical Commission at the expense of the applicant in a newspaper of general circulation in the Town not less than 14 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.
If after a public hearing the Historical Commission determines that the significant building should not be preferably preserved, the Historical Commission shall, within five days after the hearing, notify in writing the Building Inspector and the applicant of the determination and the Building Inspector may issue a demolition permit upon receipt of the written determination.
If after a public hearing the Historical Commission determines that the significant building should be preferably preserved ("preservation determination"), the Historical Commission shall, within five days after the hearing, notify in writing the Building Inspector and the applicant, and no demolition permit may be issued until six months after the date of the preservation determination by the Historical Commission.
Notwithstanding anything contained in Subsection G, the Building Inspector may issue a demolition permit for a building with a preservation determination at any time after receipt of written advice from the Historical Commission to the effect that either:
The Historical 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 Historical Commission is satisfied that for at least six months the applicant 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.
Once a significant building is given a determination of significance by the Historical Commission, the applicant and owner shall be responsible for properly securing the building to the satisfaction of the Building Inspector, whether occupied or vacant. Should the applicant fail to so secure the building and the significant building is destroyed at any time during the six-month demolition delay period and such destruction could have been prevented by the required security measures as determined by the Building Inspector, it shall be considered a demolition in violation of this chapter.
Also, the applicant shall allow the Historical Commission or a designee appointed by the Historical Commission access to the significant building and property, for the purpose of documenting the building under the survey process of the Massachusetts Historical Commission and for the purpose of showing the building to prospective purchasers or preservers.
Notwithstanding the other provisions of this chapter, the Building Inspector may issue a demolition permit at any time in the event of imminent and substantial danger to the health and safety of the public due to deteriorating conditions. Prior to doing so, the Building Inspector shall inspect the building and document, in writing, the findings and reasons requiring an emergency demolition, a copy of which shall be forwarded immediately to the Historical Commission. Before allowing emergency demolition, the Building Inspector shall make every effort to inform the Chairperson of the Commission of his intention to allow demolition.
No provision of this chapter is intended to conflict with or abridge any obligations or rights conferred by Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 143, regarding removal or demolition of dangerous or abandoned structures. In the event of a conflict, the applicable provisions of Chapter 143 shall control.
The Historical Commission is authorized to adopt rules and regulations to carry out its duties and functions under this chapter.
The Historical Commission is specifically authorized to institute any and all actions and proceedings, in law or equity, as it may deem necessary and appropriate to obtain compliance with the requirements of this chapter or to prevent a threatened violation thereof.
No building permit for any premises upon which a significant building has been voluntarily demolished in violation of this chapter shall be issued for a period of two years after the date of the completion of such demolition. The design shall first be reviewed, and must be accepted by, the Historical Commission. 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.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, whenever the Historical Commission shall, on its own initiative or on application of the applicant, determine that earlier reconstruction, restoration or other remediation of any demolition in violation of this chapter better serves the intent and purpose of this chapter, it may, prior to the expiration of said period of two years, authorize issuance of a building permit, upon such conditions as the Historical Commission deems necessary or appropriate to effectuate the purposes of this chapter, and may so notify the Building Inspector.
Nothing in this chapter shall be deemed to conflict with the provisions of the Historic Districts Act, Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 40C. If any of the provisions of this chapter do so conflict, that act shall prevail.
In case any section, paragraph or part of this chapter is for any reason declared invalid or unconstitutional by any court of competent jurisdiction, every other section, paragraph and part shall continue in full force and effect.