Demolition Delay Ordinance

Historic house.The Westfield Historical Commission is made up of residents of Westfield who have been appointed by the Mayor and approved by the City Council to direct the city’s commitment to the preservation of the historical assets of the community. To further this commitment, the Historical Commission has identified additional properties as meeting the criteria for listing in our local register. These properties, once on the Westfield Historical Commission list of Properties of Historical Significance come under Ordinance 1352 (Demolition Delay).

What is the Demolition Delay Ordinance?

This Ordinance allows the Commission a time frame in which to work with owners of listed buildings who wish to demolish said structures or alter in such as way a to nullify its historical significance.

The only true power allowed the Commission under Ordinance 1352 is that it may hold up the issuance of a demolition permit of a listed building for 90 days to allow time to present a case for historic preservation.

Listed properties are required to apply for a Certificate of Historical Review, at which time the owners and the Commission meet to discuss alternatives to demolition.

The Commission has had the opportunity to work with owners on three occasions. In two of these meetings the owners maintained the buildings and thus the historic look of the structure and the neighborhood. These Westfield citizens are the Kulyak Family at 54 East Silver Street, and the Easthampton Bank at 85 Broad Street.

Ordinance 1352

(Ord. No. 1352, 4-17-03)

Sec. 6-76 - Definitions.

The following words and terms, when used for purposes of this article, have the following meanings:

Building means a structure enclosed with 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.

Certificate of historical review (CHR) That certificate issued by the historical commission that certifies that the owner of an historical structure has submitted a proposed demolition of all or a portion of an historical building or structure to the historical commission for review.

Demolition means the act of pulling down, destroying, removing or razing a building or any exterior portion thereof, commencing the work of total or substantial destruction with the intent of completing the same.

Demolition permit The permit issued by a building commissioner or local building inspector as required by the state building code for the demolition, partial demolition, or removal of a building or structure.

Historically significant means any building, structure, feature/component, or portion thereof, which is listed on, or located within, any of the following:

The National Register of Historic Places;

The State Register of Historic Places;

The Westfield Historical Commission Register of Historic Places;

A local historic district created in accordance with M.G.L.A. c. 40C.

Individual features/components means any architectural detail of a building or structure (e.g., mantles, doorways, staircases, windows, etc.) capable of being removed, substantially intact, from the building or structure.

Structure means a combination of materials assembled at a fixed location, not for merely temporary purposes, intended to give support or shelter, such as a building, retaining wall, platform, or flagpole or the like.

(Ord. No. 1352, 4-17-03)

Sec. 6-77. - Placement on Westfield Historical Commission Register.

Properties eligible for placement on the Westfield Historical Commission Register of Historic Places shall be those buildings and structures which contain or reflect distinctive and demonstrably important features of architectural, cultural, political, economic or social significance to the City of Westfield.

In order to be placed on the register, the Westfield Historical Commission must, by two-thirds majority vote of the total membership of the commission, and following discussion at a lawfully posted and conducted open meeting to which the property owner has been invited to participate, determine that such property is appropriate for inclusion.

(Ord. No. 1352, 4-17-03)

Sec. 6-78. - Certificate of historical review.

No one may apply for a demolition permit, nor shall a demolition permit be issued, for the demolition of any historically significant buildings and structures, or any portion thereof, until the Westfield Historical Commission has issued a certificate of historic review (CHR) or the city clerk has certified the expiration of 90 days from date of application for a CHR.

Any property owner intending to demolish all or any portion of an historically significant building or structure situated on the owner's real property shall first obtain an application for a certificate of historic review from the office of the city clerk. The application, which shall be in such form as the historical commission shall require, shall be returned to the office of the city clerk together with a filing fee of $60.00. Included in the application shall be a list of those property owners directly abutting the property in question including those whose property is located directly across the street. Upon receipt of an application for a CHR the city clerk shall forward a copy to the chairman of the historical commission. The application for CHR shall be available for public inspection in the office of the city clerk for such time as is necessary for the historical commission to conduct its review but not to exceed 90 days from its date of submission.

All timelines shall be calendar days, and shall begin on the date of filing with the city clerk. All timelines may be extended upon written mutual consent of the applicant and commission filed with the city clerk.

(Ord. No. 1352, 4-17-03)

Sec. 6-79. - Public hearing, issuance of certificate.

The commission shall schedule a public hearing on the application for CHR to be held not more than 45 days from the date of the receipt, by the city clerk, of an application. No less than seven days prior to the date of public hearing, the historical commission shall cause notice of public hearing, specifying the street address of the property in question, the purpose of the public hearing and the date, time and location of the public hearing to be posted on one or more public places in the municipal building, to be posted upon the building or structure itself and to be placed in a newspaper of general circulation in the city. A copy of the notice o public hearing shall also be mailed by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the applicant no less than seven days prior to the date of hearing and, by regular first class mail, to those property owners listed in the application as abutters. The purpose of said hearing shall be to discuss, investigate and evaluate alternatives that will allow for the preservation of such buildings, structures features/components or portions thereof. The applicant's intended use/reuse of the property is not a topic of the hearing.

The commission shall file its certificate of historic review with the city clerk and shall send copies to the applicant and office of the superintendent of building within 90 days of the original filing with the city clerk.

In the event that the historical commission fails to issue a CHR within 90 days from the date of original filing with the city clerk, the applicant may by written request seek the certification of the city clerk that the 90 day timeframe has expired. The building commissioner or local building inspector may accept an application for a demolition permit upon the applicant's delivery of either the historical commission's certification of historic review or the city clerk's certification that 90 days has elapsed since the application for CHR was filed.

(Ord. No. 1352, 4-17-03; Ord. No. 1469, 2-23-08)

Secs. 6-80—6-84. - Reserved.