[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Schodack 9-24-1992 as L.L. No. 4-1992. Amendments noted where applicable.]
It is hereby declared as a matter of public policy that the protection, enhancement and perpetuation of landmarks and historic districts is desirable to promote the economic, cultural, educational and general welfare of the public. Inasmuch as the identity of a people is founded on its past and inasmuch as the Town of Schodack has many significant historic cultural resources which constitute its heritage, this chapter is intended to:
Integrate the protection and enhancement of the resources which represent distinctive elements of the town's historic, architectural and cultural heritage with harmonious, orderly and efficient growth and development of the town;
Foster an appreciation for and pride in the accomplishments of the past;
Stabilize or enhance property values to the degree that historic preservation is recognized as an influencing factor; and
Provide a means whereby owners of landmarks or properties within historic districts will be provided guidance and assistance in preserving such properties.
As used in this chapter, the following definitions shall have the meanings indicated:
- The Town Board of the Town of Schodack.
- An individual structure, a structure and associated land, outbuildings and other features, a cemetery or an archaeological site.
- TOWN OF SCHODACK or TOWN
- The real property within the boundaries of the Town of Schodack of New York State.
The Board may from time to time establish by local law at the request of an owner or the owners of a majority of the assessed valuation in a given area, or at the request of a historical society chartered by the state, or at the request of the Planning Board, or at the request of the Historic Preservation Commission, or at its own discretion, historic districts or properties.
A property or district may be designated as an historic property or district if it:
Has been designated as an historic district or property by a federal or state agency.
Possesses special character of historic or aesthetic interest or value as part of the cultural, political, economic or social history of the town, region, state or nation.
Is identified with historic personages.
Embodies the distinguishing characteristics of an architectural style.
Is the work of a designer whose work has significantly influenced an age.
Because of unique location or singular physical characteristics, represents an established and familiar visual feature of the neighborhood.
Whenever a property or area is proposed for designation by the Board as an historic property or district, the Board shall cause a notice of such proposed designation and public hearing to be sent to each owner of record, as indicated on the town tax rolls, of any such property or part thereof proposed for such designation, not less than 30 days prior to the public hearing. Such letter shall indicate the time and place of the hearing on the proposed local law to designate as historic the owner's property, at which the owner and other interested parties shall have an opportunity to be heard.
Any historic property or district so designated by the Board shall be recorded as such on the tax rolls, and a record of the designation shall be kept in the Planning and Building Department offices. Such designation shall be duly indicated in reference to any request for permit or approval to be issued by either office.
There is hereby created an Historic Preservation Commission. Such Commission shall consist of five members who are town residents, one of whom shall live within an historic district. Each member shall be appointed by the Board to serve without compensation, and shall have demonstrated an interest in historic preservation. The Board may remove any member upon a determination that good cause exists therefor. In creating the Commission, the Board shall attempt to include an architect, an archaeologist, a professional historian and other persons who have professional credentials or have otherwise demonstrated skills or knowledge which demonstrate their understanding of the importance and economic opportunities of historic preservation, to the extent such people are available within the town. The Commission shall elect its own Chairman, Vice Chairman and Secretary. The Commission shall operate on the basis of Robert's Modified Rules of Order for Small Bodies, and all decisions shall be by vote of the Commission.
Members shall serve three-year terms, except that, of those first appointed, one member shall be appointed to serve one year, two shall be appointed to serve two years and two shall be appointed to serve three years.
[Amended 3-11-1999 by L.L. No. 1-1999]
Vacancies on any Commission shall be filled in like manner as originally appointed, and shall be filled for the unexpired portion of the term.
The Commission shall:
Provide advice and assistance to owners of historic properties on appropriate and economic methods for maintenance of those properties.
Recommend to the Board properties and districts to be designated as historic.
Create, with the approval of the Board, rules and regulations for the conduct of its business.
Survey the historic, architectural and cultural resources of the town, and prepare written documentation on such resources.
Receive and review applications for modifications to properties within the Commission's jurisdictions.
Make recommendations to the Board concerning acquisition or acceptance of properties, or interests in properties within its jurisdiction, especially where such property is considered essential to the historic, architectural or cultural integrity of the district or the town.
Undertake to increase public awareness of the value of preservation of historic, architectural or cultural resources falling within the town.
Recommend to the Board staffing and funding levels as it deems necessary to fulfill its mission.
No person shall carry out, or cause to be carried out, any exterior modification, which shall include but not necessarily be limited to any restoration, reconstruction, new construction, demolition, excavation or relocation of any property structure or feature thereon within the jurisdiction of the Commission without first receiving a certificate of approval from the Commission and an appropriate permit from the Building Department. No such certificate shall be considered necessary for any interior area unless it is regularly open to the public. No such certificate shall be required for, and nothing in this chapter shall be construed as prohibiting, ordinary maintenance or repair of the exterior of any property which does not involve a change in the design, material or outward appearance.
Any certificate issued shall specify the nature of the modifications to be carried out, and the character of the materials to be used so far as necessary to assure maintenance of the character of the property or district.
The Commission shall issue within 60 days of receipt of an application for a certificate under this section either an approval of such application or a denial of the application together with reasons for such denial. In so doing the Commission shall attempt to assure the best possible preservation of the historic and cultural resources of the town. The Commission shall meet with applicants to evaluate proposed modifications, and shall attempt to develop mutually agreeable courses of action.
To receive a certificate of approval of modification, an applicant shall file an application therefor with the Commission on forms to be provided by the Commission. The application shall include:
The name, address and telephone number of the applicant;
The address of the property involved in the modifications, name and telephone number of the occupant if different from the owner and such other identifying information as the Commission shall reasonably request;
A description of the work proposed to be done;
Photographs illustrating the location of the proposed work and its relation to the property and to surrounding properties;
Elevations and drawings of the work to be done if available; and
Samples of materials to be used if appropriate.
The applicant may also be responsible for providing additional information the Commission may reasonably require to fully understand the proposed work.
No permit for modification or demolition of a property designated as historic shall be issued by the Building Department unless the applicant presents a certificate of approval of modification issued by the Commission. Any building permit issued shall require compliance with the provisions of any certificate of approval of modification issued by the Commission.
The Commission shall base its determinations for approval or denial of a certificate of approval of modification on the following criteria: any modification shall be compatible with the character of the property and its setting. In determining compatibility the Commission shall follow the current Guidelines for Rehabilitation issued by the Secretary of the Interior of the United States. Any modification shall not detract from the character of any surrounding properties whether historic or not. The Commission shall take into account the current state of repair and relative impact of failure to make the proposed modifications on the character and value of any surrounding property or properties. The Commission shall make every effort to provide assistance and guidance to applicants to help achieve the goals of the applicant while maintaining basic character of the property.
Whenever the proposed modification is for demolition of an historic property a certificate shall not be issued unless and until the Town Building Inspector shall have certified the property can not reasonably be made safe and is therefore a public hazard; or the hardship criteria in § 132-11 have been met. At least 60 days shall elapse between the presentation of an application for demolition of a property designated as historic and the approval of a certificate therefor by the Commission.
All decisions of the Commission regarding certificates of approval shall be in writing, and unless otherwise indicated by this chapter, shall be rendered within 30 days. In the event that the Commission shall determine not to authorize a certificate as requested, it shall set forth in its decision the reasons for such denial. Copies of all decisions shall be filed with the Building Department.
No owner or person with an interest in real property designated an historic property by the Board or included within an historic district designated by the Board shall permit the property to fall into a serious state of disrepair, so as to result in the deterioration of any exterior architectural feature which would, in the judgment of the Commission, produce a detrimental effect on the life or character of the property itself, or of the historic district.
In applying its judgment the Commission shall be concerned with deterioration of exterior walls or vertical supports, roofs or other horizontal members, exterior chimneys, ineffective weatherproofing or allowing the structure to be in a hazardous condition which could lead to the claim that demolition is necessary for public safety.
Notification of the Commission's finding a property in violation of this section shall be sent to the owner of the property by registered mail, return receipt requested. The notification shall specify the reason for the violation, the penalties to which the owner may be subject, the procedures, including hardship, the owner may follow and notice that the owner has 30 days in which to respond or remedy the situation.
After receiving written notification of the denial of a certificate or a citation for allowing a property to fall into a state of serious disrepair, the applicant may apply for relief if the applicant believes such denial will impose an economic hardship.
To prove hardship the applicant must establish:
For a private homeowner, the provisions of this chapter remove their opportunity to use the property for residential purposes;
For a commercial property, the property is incapable of earning a reasonable return, regardless of whether it can earn the highest possible return, and the property cannot be adapted for any other reasonable use by the owner which would provide a reasonable return.
The applicant shall consult with the Commission and shall demonstrate good faith efforts to seek acceptable alternatives to the proposed unacceptable modifications.
The Commission shall offer the applicant and other interested persons an opportunity to be heard.
At least 30 days shall elapse between the application for a hardship determination and the award of any hardship classification by a Commission, except in the case of an application for demolition in which case 60 days shall elapse, to allow sufficient time for consideration of any reasonable alternatives which might be available to mitigate undesirable effects of award of a grant of hardship designation.
If the provisions of this section are met the Commission shall grant an application for modification if it determines the applicant would in fact suffer an unwarranted hardship.
It shall be the responsibility of the Building Department to enforce the provisions of this chapter in the same manner as all other local building laws. Failure to comply with any of the provisions of this chapter shall be deemed a violation and shall be liable for a fine of not less than $50 nor more than $250 for each day the violation continues. This penalty shall be in addition to and not in lieu of any criminal penalty applicable.
Any applicant aggrieved by the decision of a Commission may within 10 business days file a written application with the Town Clerk for review of the application by the Zoning Board of Appeals. The application for review shall state the reasons or grounds for the request for review. The Board's review of the Commission's decision shall be in keeping with the intent of this chapter.