There will be a public hearing on the Demolition Review Bylaw on Wednesday, February 15, at Town Hall, in the Great Hall at 7pm.
The Wellesley Historical Commission (WHC) held multiple public forums last year to discuss the high number of tear downs in town and to get the public’s feedback on a proposed historic preservation demolition review bylaw.
Wellesley is surrounded by communities with such bylaws, and the WHC says that as a result, Wellesley is targeted even more by those willing to tear down historic homes. About three-quarters of residents in a survey said they are concerned about the number of tear downs in town.
The WHC says, “A Demolition Review Bylaw provides for a review of demolition permits for historically significant buildings, and can invoke a demolition delay period for such buildings. The purpose of the Demolition Review Bylaw is to provide a pause before a building is demolished to allow an opportunity to consider alternatives to demolition and encourage renovations and/or additions instead. During the delay period, the building owner and the Historical Commission can explore opportunities to preserve, rehabilitate, or adaptively reuse the building. All decisions whether to impose a delay come after a public hearing that is open to all, including Town residents, abutters and neighbors.
“The proposed Demolition Review Bylaw applies only to primary buildings (i.e., not sheds, garages or other ancillary structures) built prior to December 31, 1949. If an owner wishes to tear down such a structure, the owner would file a short application with the Planning Department staff who would review and determine whether the Bylaw applies to the building. If it does, a public hearing before the Historical Commission would be scheduled to determine whether the building should be preferably preserved. If, after hearing from the owner, residents, abutters, neighbors, and considering the factors enumerated in the Bylaw (see the definition of “Preferably Preserved” in Section B), the Historical Commission determines that the building should be preferably preserved, a 12 month delay on demolition would be imposed. If a building is built after the cutoff date or is determined not to be preferably preserved, the owner may apply for a demolition permit with the Building Department in the ordinary course. Please see this flowchart for a graphical flow through the process.