Town of Austerlitz, NY
Columbia County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Austerlitz 6-9-1988 by L.L. No. 2-1988. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES

Unsafe buildings — See Ch. 83.

Uniform construction codes — See Ch. 90.

Zoning — See Ch. 195.

§ 115-1
Title. 

§ 115-2
Statutory authority. 

§ 115-3
Purpose. 

§ 115-4
Definitions. 

§ 115-5
Historic Preservation Board. 

§ 115-6
Designation of historic landmarks and historic districts. 

§ 115-7
Certificate of appropriateness required; criteria for issuance; application procedure. 

§ 115-8
Financial hardship exception. 

§ 115-9
Enforcement. 

§ 115-10
Maintenance and repair. 

§ 115-11
Penalties for offenses. 

§ 115-12
Appeals. 

§ 115-1 Title.

This chapter shall be known as the "Historic Preservation Law of the Town of Austerlitz."

§ 115-2 Statutory authority.

This chapter is adopted pursuant to the authority contained in § 119-dd of the General Municipal Law of the State of New York.

§ 115-3 Purpose.

The identification and creation of historic landmarks and districts within the Town of Austerlitz is necessary in order to preserve, protect and enhance the significant historic, architectural and cultural resources which constitute the heritage of the Town.

§ 115-4 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:

HISTORIC DISTRICT
Any area which contains places, sites, structures, or buildings which have a special character or historical value or aesthetic interest or which represent one or more periods or styles of architecture and which are situate in a distinct section of the Town.
HISTORIC LANDMARK
Any place, site, structure, or building of historical value or aesthetic interest by reason of its antiquity or uniqueness of architectural design or as part of the development, heritage or cultural characteristics of the Town.

§ 115-5 Historic Preservation Board.

A. 

There is hereby created a Board to be known as the "Austerlitz Historic Preservation Board."

B. 

The Board shall consist of five residents of the Town who shall be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the Town Board.

C. 

The Chairman of the Board shall be appointed by the Town Board.

D. 

The powers of the Board shall include:

(1) 

The adoption of criteria for the identification of historic landmarks and districts within the Town.

(2) 

The designation of structures and areas as historic landmarks and districts.

(3) 

Recommendation to the Town Board of the Town's acceptance of facade easements and development rights or such other interests in real property as may be desirable to carry out the intent of this chapter.

(4) 

Recommendation to the Town Board of the utilization of state, federal or private funds to promote preservation of historic landmarks and districts within the Town.

(5) 

Recommendation to the Town Board of the Town's acquisition of historic landmarks where private preservation is not feasible.

(6) 

Recommendation to the Town Board of approval or disapproval of applications for certificates of appropriateness as set forth in this chapter.

§ 115-6 Designation of historic landmarks and historic districts.

A. 

The Historic Preservation Board may designate an individual property as an historic landmark if it obtains the written consent of the property owner and if such property:

(1) 

Possesses special character or historic or aesthetic interest or value as part of the cultural, economic or social history of the Town;

(2) 

Is identified with historic personages;

(3) 

Embodies the distinguishing characteristics of an architectural style;

(4) 

Is the work of a designer whose work has significantly influenced an age or geographic area; or

(5) 

Because of a unique location or singular physical characteristic, represents an established and familiar visual feature of an area or neighborhood.

B. 

The Historic Preservation Board may designate an area or group of properties as an historic district if it obtains the written consent of the property owners and if such properties:

(1) 

Contain characteristics which meet one or more of the criteria for designation of an historic landmark; and

(2) 

Such properties constitute a distinct geographic area of the Town.

C. 

Prior to the designation of an historic landmark or district, the Historic Preservation Board shall hold a public hearing, at which time the owner or owners of the proposed historic landmark or district, together with any other interested persons, shall be entitled to be heard. Notice of such public hearing shall be published in the official Town newspaper at least five days prior to the public hearing. After the Historic Preservation Board has published notice of the public hearing with regard to a proposed historic designation for a landmark or district, no building permit shall be issued by the Building Inspector with regard to such landmark or district until the Historic Preservation Board has made a final decision concerning such proposed designation.

D. 

Not later than 30 days after the public hearing, the Historic Preservation Board shall issue a written decision either approving or disapproving the proposed designation of historic landmark or district.

E. 

The written designation of each historic landmark and each historic district shall be filed in the Town Clerk's office and in the office of the Columbia County Clerk.

§ 115-7 Certificate of appropriateness required; criteria for issuance; application procedure.

A. 

Prohibition of work. No person, firm or corporation shall make any exterior alteration, restoration, reconstruction, demolition, or new construction, nor shall any person physically move an historic landmark or property within an historic district, nor make any material change in the appearance of such a property, its sidewalks, fences, steps, paving or other exterior elements, without first obtaining a certificate of appropriateness from the Town Board, upon the recommendation of the Historic Preservation Board.

B. 

Criteria.

(1) 

The issuance of a certificate of appropriateness shall be based upon the following principles:

(a) 

No change to interior spaces or to architectural features not visible from the exterior of the structure shall be reviewed or require the issuance of a certificate of appropriateness;

(b) 

Properties which contribute to the character of an historic district shall be retained, with their historic features altered as little as possible;

(c) 

Any alteration of an historic landmark shall be compatible with its historic character, as well as with the surrounding district; and

(d) 

Any new construction shall be compatible with the historic district in which it is located, if any.

(2) 

In applying the principle of compatibility, the following factors shall be considered:

(a) 

The general design, character and appropriateness to the property of the proposed alteration or new construction.

(b) 

The scale of proposed alteration or new construction in relation to the property itself, surrounding properties, and the neighborhood.

(c) 

Texture and materials and their relation to similar features of other properties in the neighborhood.

(d) 

Visual compatibility with surrounding properties, including proportion of the property's front facade, proportion and arrangement of windows and other openings within the facade, roof shape, and the rhythm of spacing of properties on streets, including setback.

(e) 

The importance of historic, architectural or other features to the significance of the property.

C. 

Procedure.

(1) 

Prior to the issuance of a building permit or the commencement of any work requiring a certificate of appropriateness, the owner shall file an application with the Historic Preservation Board. The application shall contain:

(a) 

The name, address and telephone number of the applicant.

(b) 

The location and description of the property.

(c) 

Elevation and perspective drawings, including relationship to adjacent properties.

(d) 

A description of the work proposed and the materials to be used.

(e) 

Where the proposal includes signs or lettering, a scale drawing showing the type of lettering to be used, all dimensions and colors, a description of materials to be used, method of illumination and a plan showing the sign's location on the property.

(f) 

Any other information which the Board may deem necessary in order to visualize the proposed work.

(g) 

A fee of $25 shall accompany each application.

(2) 

The Historic Preservation Board shall review the application and issue a written recommendation to the Town Board within 30 days from its receipt of the completed application.

(3) 

The Town Board shall, by resolution, approve or disapprove the issuance of a certificate of appropriateness within 30 days of its receipt of the written recommendation of the Historic Preservation Board.

(4) 

A copy of the Town Board's resolution shall be sent to the applicant and the Historic Preservation Board.

(5) 

A certificate of appropriateness shall be in addition to and not in lieu of any building permit that may be required by any other law or regulation of the Town.

§ 115-8 Financial hardship exception.

A. 

Criteria. An applicant whose certificate of appropriateness has been denied may apply for relief from historic landmark or district designation status on the grounds that such designation constitutes a financial hardship. In order to prove the existence of financial hardship, the applicant shall establish that:

(1) 

The property is incapable of earning a reasonable return while restricted with the historic landmark or district designation;

(2) 

The property cannot reasonably be adapted for any use, whether by the current owner or by a purchaser, that would result in a reasonable return; and

(3) 

Efforts to find a purchaser interested in acquiring the property and preserving it as designated have failed.

B. 

Procedure.

(1) 

After receiving written notification from the Town Board of the denial of a certificate of appropriateness, an applicant may file an application for hardship with the Town Board.

(2) 

The applicant shall consult in good faith with the Historic Preservation Board and the Town Board in a diligent effort to seek a solution that will result in preservation of the historic landmark or district.

(3) 

The Town Board shall review the hardship application and, by resolution, approve or disapprove the same within 30 days of its receipt of the complete application.

(4) 

In approving a hardship application, the Town Board shall have the power to impose reasonable conditions or restrictions on the proposed work in order to preserve, to the extent practicable, the historic nature of the landmark or district involved.

(5) 

A copy of the Town Board's resolution shall be sent to the applicant and the Historic Preservation Board.

§ 115-9 Enforcement.

All work performed pursuant to a certificate of appropriateness or a hardship exception shall conform to any requirements included therein. The Town Building Inspector shall inspect such work periodically to assure compliance. If work is found that is not being performed in accordance with the certificate of appropriateness or hardship exception, the Building Inspector shall issue a stop-work order, and all work shall immediately cease.

§ 115-10 Maintenance and repair.

A. 

No owner or person with an interest in real property designated as an historic landmark or included within an historic district shall permit the property to fall into such a state of disrepair so as to result in the deterioration of any exterior feature which would produce a detrimental effect upon the character of the historic landmark or the district in which the same is situate.

B. 

Nothing contained in this chapter shall be construed to prevent the ordinary maintenance and repair of any exterior feature of an historic landmark or property within an historic district that does not involve a change in design, material, or outward appearance.

§ 115-11 Penalties for offenses.

A. 

A violation of any of the provisions of this chapter shall result in the termination of any permits issued hereunder. In addition, any such violation shall be punishable by a fine not exceeding $250 for each week that such violation exists.

B. 

Any person who demolishes, alters, constructs or permits an historic landmark or property within an historic district to fall into a state of disrepair in violation of this chapter shall be required to restore the property and its site to its appearance prior to the violation. This civil remedy shall be in addition to and not in lieu of any fines imposed under the provisions of Subsection A above.

§ 115-12 Appeals.

Any person aggrieved by a final decision of the Historic Preservation Board or the Town Board under the provisions of this chapter may commence a proceeding in the Supreme Court for review pursuant to the provisions of Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules.