The Town Council on Monday set a public hearing for Sept. 4 for residents to weigh in on a proposed ordinance that would delay the demolition or deconstruction of buildings that are at least 75 years old.
The proposed ordinance is designed to protect architectually or historically significant buildings by encouraging owners to explore options other than demolition or structural modifications, according to Town Attorney Kari Olson.
“The proposed ordinance is not to prohibit people from demolishing or refurbishing in any way altering their property,” Olson said at a recent Town Council meeting.
The ordinance, if passed, would be triggered if, at any time, a proposal is made to demolish or deconstruct all or part of a building that is 75 years old or older.
The owner of that building would have to apply to the town’s building official, who would then refer the application to a demolition delay committee comprising members of the planning and zoning commission, the historic district commission and other town residents.
The demolition delay committee has 20 days to decide whether the building is a historically “significant structure.” If the committee makes that determination, a public hearing will be held within 35 days of the application to determine whether demolition should be delayed.
A public hearing can also be set if a member of the public, after the application is filed (notice is given upon the application’s filing), requests one.
If the committee determines that the structure is historically significant, the building official is prohibited from issuing a demolition permit for 180 days from the date of the application.
According to the proposed ordinance, “[d]uring the demolition delay period of 180 days from application, the Applicant of a Significant Structure shall pursue and give due consideration to all possible alternatives to demolition, including preservation, restoration, rehabilitation, relocation or detailed recordation of the affected building or structure.”
The ordinance requires that the owner make “a good faith effort to accommodate reasonable requests” to prevent demolition.
The ordinance, which has been in the works since at least January, represents a compromise from what was originally proposed.
Town Councilor Kevin McCann, who read the motion into the record to bring the ordinance to a public hearing, said that he initially opposed the measure because he viewed it as another restriction on private property owners.
But McCann said that the ordinance has “evolved” over the last several months - the initial ordinance called to protect structures that were 50, not 75, years old or older - such that it now is “very much a compromise.”
And while he still had “some concerns” with the ordinance, McCann said that he supported bringing it to a public hearing.