CHAPTER 19 -- DEMOLITION DELAY
19001. Intent and purpose
19003. Definition of terms
19007. Alternatives to demolition
19009. Expiration of demolition delay
190010. Expiration of findings
19011. Emergency demolition
19013. Enforcement and remedies
History: The May, 1997 ATM adopted Article 11, a rewrite of General Bylaws. Approved by Attorney
General September 10, 1997.
Amended May 12, 2003 ATM, Article 23 - §19005. Procedure, Subsection (d) (1). Approved by
Attorney General August 26, 2003.
Amended May 12, 2003 ATM, Article 24 - Added §190010. Expiration of Findings. Portions of Article
24 approved by Attorney General August 26, 2003.
Amended May 12, 2003 ATM, Article 25 - §19005. Procedure, Subsection (b) (1). Approved by
Attorney General August 26, 2003.
§ 19001. Intent and purpose
It is the intent and purpose of this chapter to preserve and protect from demolition, whenever
possible, historically significant buildings or structures; to encourage owners of such buildings or
structures to explore and develop alternatives to such demolition; and thereby to preserve the
historic resources of the town, make the town a more attractive and desirable place in which to
live, and so promote the general welfare.
§ 19003. Definition of terms
The following terms, for the purposes of this chapter of these bylaws shall, unless another
meaning is clearly apparent for the way in which the word is used, have the following meanings:
(1) "building or structure" means any combination of materials forming a shelter or site for persons,
property, or animals.
(2) "building commissioner" means the person occupying the office of commissioner of buildings or
otherwise authorized to issue demolition permits.
(3) "commission" means the Chatham historical commission.
(4) "demolition" means the act of pulling down, destroying, removing, or razing a building or
structure, in whole or in part (including the demolition of exterior walls or roof), or commencing
such work with the intent of completing the same, all as determined by the building commissioner;
provided, however, that the term "demolition" shall not include the ordinary maintenance or repair
or an addition to any building or structure.
(5) "historic district" means any historic district that may from time to time be established by federal,
state, or local law, excluding the town historic business district.
(6) "historically significant building or structure" means any building or structure located within the
town which is, in whole or in part, seventy-five (75) years old or more, and -
(A) which is listed on or is within an area listed on the National or State Register of Historic Places or is
the subject of a pending application for such listing or,
(B) which is located within any historic district or,
(C) which is or has been designated by the Chatham historical commission to be a historically
significant building or structure, following a finding by the commission that such building or
(i) is associated with one or more historical persons or events, or with the cultural, economic, social or
political history of the Town or Commonwealth; or
(ii) possesses architectural value or significance in terms of period, style, method of construction, or
association with an historically prominent architect or builder, either by itself or in conjunction with
a group of buildings or structures.
(7) "town" means any part of the Town of Chatham, excluding the area contained within the town
historic business district established pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 641, of
the Acts of 1985.
§ 19005. Procedure
(a) (1) Before any building or structure whose age is seventy-five (75) years or more is the subject of
demolition, a Notice of Intent to Demolish shall first be filed by the applicant and/or owner with the
commission, and a copy of such notice shall promptly be forwarded by the commission to the
(2) The said notice shall be in the form provided and established by the commission and shall include
a copy of the demolition plan, a description of the building or structure to be demolished, the
reasons for the demolition and the proposed reuse of the property.
(3) If the applicant and/or owner is unable to specify the exact age of the building or structure, the
notice shall so state and shall set forth the most approximate age known and the basis for such
(b) (1) Within sixty-five (65) days of the date of filing of the Notice of Intent to Demolish, the commission
shall hold a public hearing to --
(A) Determine if the subject building or structure is historically significant.
(B) Determine, if less than a complete demolition is proposed, whether the work to be done will
materially diminish its historical significance.
(C) Explore alternatives to demolition.
(2) Notice of the time, place and subject matter of the hearing shall be mailed to the applicant and/or
owner and given by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the town once each week
for two (2) successive weeks, the first notice to appear at least fourteen (14) days before the day
of the hearing (including the day of publication and excluding the day of the hearing).
(c) (1) If after such hearing, and not later than fourteen (14) days therefrom, the commission determines
by written finding that the building or structure is not historically significant, or where less than a
complete demolition is being proposed that the work to be done will not materially diminish its
historical significance, then it shall promptly notify the applicant and/or owner of its determination
and file a copy thereof with the building commissioner who may thereafter proceed with the
proposed demolition in accordance with applicable law.
(2) The failure of the commission to issue its written determination within fourteen (14) days after
such hearing shall be deemed to constitute a determination that the building or structure is not
(d) (1) If after such hearing and within fourteen (14) days therefrom, the commission determines by
written finding that the building or structure is historically significant and that the proposed work
would materially diminish its historical significance, then the commission is hereby empowered to
impose a demolition delay of up to three hundred and sixty five (365) days from the date of such
(2) Written notice of its determination and the period of delay imposed shall be mailed promptly to the
applicant and/or owner, and a copy thereof shall be furnished to the building commissioner who
shall not issue a demolition permit during the period specified therein; provided, however, that
such permit may be issued prior to the end of such period if the commission notifies the building
commissioner that the applicant and/or owner (A) has made a bona fide, reasonable and
unsuccessful effort to locate a purchaser for the building or structure who has agreed to preserve,
rehabilitate, restore or relocate same, or (B) has agreed to alternatives to demolition as set forth
in section 19007.
§ 19007. Alternatives to demolition
(a) (1) If the commission imposes a demolition delay as set forth in section 19005(d) and/or if alternatives
to demolition are developed in the public hearing which are acceptable to the applicant and/or
owner, then the commission is hereby empowered, in its discretion, to enter into an agreement
with such applicant and/or owner providing for such alternatives and a time period for
implementation of same.
(2) A copy of said agreement shall be filed with the building commissioner and any other applicable
town agency, and thereafter no work shall be done on the building or structure except in
accordance with the terms of said agreement unless and until a new Notice of Intent is filed and
§ 19009. Expiration of demolition delay
At the end of any period of demolition delay as set forth in this chapter, including any alternatives
agreed upon pursuant to section 19007, the commission shall notify the building commissioner
that the period of delay has expired, and the applicant and/or owner shall be entitled to apply for
all necessary demolition permits to allow the work to go forward as set forth in the Notice of Intent
to Demolish, and pursuant to applicable law.
§ 190010. Expiration of Findings
(a) All determinations by written finding made by the Historical Commission pursuant to sections
19005. (c) (1) and 19005. (d) (1) & (2) above shall expire 2 (two) years from the date of the
written finding if the work authorized has not commenced.
§ 19011. Emergency demolition
(a) Nothing in this chapter shall restrict or prevent the building commissioner from ordering the
immediate demolition of any building or structure which is determined to be imminently dangerous
or unsafe to the public.
(b) The building commissioner shall file a copy of any such order of emergency demolition with the
§ 19013. Enforcement and remedies
(a) The building commissioner and/or the commission shall be authorized to enforce the provisions of
this chapter and to institute any and all actions and proceedings as may be necessary and
appropriate to obtain compliance with same, including injunctive relief to enjoin and restrain any
violations or threatened violations thereof.
(b) No building permit shall be issued or be valid for a period of up to two (2) years after completion
of such demolition with respect to any parcel or premises upon which a historically significant
building or structure has been demolished by an intentional or grossly negligent violation of this
(c) The remedies and enforcement procedures set forth in this section (19013) may be applied
separately or in conjunction with one another, at the discretion of the building commissioner
and/or the commission.
[PLEASE SEE CHAPTER 1 FOR ADDITIONAL ENFORCEMENT AND PENALTIES.]