Town of Williamstown, MA
Berkshire County
By using eCode360 you agree to be legally bound by the Terms of Use. If you do not agree to the Terms of Use, please do not use eCode360.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Annual Town Meeting of the Town of Williamstown 5-17-1994, Art. 23. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Historic and archaeological sites — See Ch. 70, § 70-5.4H.

§ 24-1 Statutory authority.

This chapter is adopted under the authority granted by Article 89 of the amendments to the Massachusetts Constitution (the Home Rule Amendment).

§ 24-2 Purpose.

This chapter is enacted for the purpose of preserving and protecting significant buildings within Williamstown which reflect distinctive features of the architectural, historical and cultural heritage of the Town and to encourage owners of such buildings to seek ways to preserve, rehabilitate or restore them rather than demolish them. To achieve those purposes, the Williamstown Historical Commission is empowered to advise the Inspector of Buildings with respect to the issuance of permits for the demolition of significant buildings. The issuance of demolition permits for significant buildings is regulated as provided in this chapter.

§ 24-3 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following terms have the meanings indicated:
COMMISSION
The Williamstown Historical Commission.
DEMOLITION
The removal of a full street-facing facade or other act of pulling down, destroying, removing, dismantling or razing a structure, or commencing the work of total or substantial destruction with the intent of completing the same. "Substantial" herein shall mean either half the volume of the structure or half its assessed value, as determined by the Building Commissioner.
[Amended 5-19-2015 ATM, Art. 37]
HISTORIC RESOURCES LIST
A list of Williamstown buildings which are on the National Register of Historic Places, or the State Register of Historic Places, or recorded by the Commission in the Local Inventory of Historic Resources, or 100 years or older.
[Amended 5-15-2001 ATM, Art. 23]
INSPECTOR OF BUILDINGS
The person occupying the office of Inspector of Buildings or otherwise authorized to issue demolition permits.
PREFERABLY PRESERVED
Any significant building deemed by the Commission to have an important association with the economic, political or cultural development of the Town or with important state or national figures or to be an outstanding or last-remaining example of a recognized architectural style that contributes substantially to the historic or architectural character of the neighborhood.
[Amended 5-15-2001 ATM, Art. 23]
SIGNIFICANT BUILDING
All buildings on the Williamstown historic resources list, to be provided to the Inspector of Buildings by the Commission.

§ 24-4 Procedure.

A. 
Determination by Inspector of Buildings. Upon receipt of a completed application for a demolition permit, the Inspector of Buildings shall establish whether the building is a significant building as defined above. If it is, the demolition permit shall be withheld, and the Inspector of Buildings shall forward a copy of the application to the Commission within seven days of filing. The applicant may appeal the Inspector of Building's decision by filing an appeal with the Zoning Board of Appeals within 21 days, which Board shall hear such appeal in the same manner and following the same procedures it follows for zoning applications appealing the decision of the Inspector of Buildings. The time periods defined in succeeding sections of this chapter shall, if necessary, begin to run after the Zoning Board of Appeals has filed its decision with the Town Clerk.
B. 
Public hearing; notice. After receipt of the permit application, the Commission shall fix a public hearing within 45 days to determine if the building is preferably preserved. Public notice shall be published in a local newspaper of the time, place and purpose of the hearing once in each of two successive weeks, the first publication not less than 14 days before the day of said hearing. Notice shall be mailed to the applicant, to owners of all property within 300 feet of the property as they appear on the most recent tax list and to the Williamstown Planning Board.
C. 
Determination.
(1) 
If after such hearing the Commission determines the demolition of the significant building will not be detrimental to the historical or cultural heritage of the Town as described under § 24-3 above, the Commission shall so notify the Inspector of Buildings within 10 days. Upon receipt of such notification or upon the failure of the Commission to act on the application within 45 days from the date it received the application, the Inspector of Buildings may issue the demolition permit.
(2) 
If the Commission determines the demolition of the significant building has important associations with the economic, political or cultural development of the Town or with important state or national figures or is an outstanding or last-remaining example of a recognized architectural style, and is therefore preferably preserved, it shall so notify the Inspector of Buildings in writing that no demolition permit may be issued until expiration of a delay period to be determined by the Commission. Said delay period shall not exceed 12 months from the date of the public hearing.
[Amended 5-19-2015 ATM, Art. 37]
(3) 
Alternatively, the owner of a building determined to be significant may seek a predetermination by the Commission as to whether the building is preferably preserved by filing an application for a hearing before the Commission with the Inspector of Buildings. The Commission shall schedule a public hearing under the notice provisions of Subsection B above. If, after a public hearing, the building is determined to be preferably preserved, no demolition permit shall be issued until expiration of a delay period to be determined by the Commission. Said delay period shall not exceed 12 months from the date of the public hearing.
[Amended 5-19-2015 ATM, Art. 37]
(4) 
Any determination made by the Commission shall lapse one year from the date of the determination.
(5) 
Notwithstanding the preceding subsections, the Inspector of Buildings may issue a demolition permit for a preferably preserved building at any time after written receipt of notice from the Commission to the effect that the Commission is satisfied there is no reasonable likelihood that the owner or some other group is willing to preserve, rehabilitate or restore such building.
D. 
Emergency measures. Nothing in this chapter shall restrict the Inspector of Buildings from immediately ordering the demolition of unsafe structures in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 143 of the Massachusetts General Laws.

§ 24-5 Enforcement.

A. 
The Commission and Inspector of Buildings are each authorized to institute any and all proceedings in law and equity as they deem necessary and appropriate to obtain compliance with requirements of this chapter, or to prevent violation thereof.
B. 
Violations shall be punishable by a fine of not more than $300. Each day of violation following written notice of such violation shall constitute a separate offense.
C. 
Upon determination by the Commission that the building is preferably preserved, the owner shall be responsible for properly securing the building, if vacant, to the satisfaction of the Inspector of Buildings. Should the owner fail to secure the building, the loss of such building through fire or other cause shall be considered voluntary demolition for the purposes of this chapter.

§ 24-6 Severability.

If any section of this chapter be for any reason declared invalid or unconstitutional by any court, every other section, paragraph or part shall continue in full force and effect.