Blue ribbon strategies for demolition review ordinances
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“Blue Ribbon” Strategies for Demolition Review Ordinances. Nadine Peterson Preservation Planner NH Division of Historical Resources. Maggie Stier Field Service Representative NH Preservation Alliance. What is Demolition Review?.

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“Blue Ribbon” Strategies for Demolition Review Ordinances

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“Blue Ribbon” Strategies for Demolition Review Ordinances

Nadine Peterson Preservation PlannerNH Division of Historical Resources

Maggie StierField Service RepresentativeNH Preservation Alliance


What is Demolition Review?

Demolition review is a legal tool that provides communities with the means to ensure that potentially significant buildings and structures are not demolished without notice and some level of review by a preservation commission.


Why Do Communities Adopt Demolition Review Procedures?

Provides “time-out” to evaluate significance of the building, meet with applicant, explore alternatives


How Does it Work?

A demolition review ordinance can be adopted

  • As an amendment to the building code

  • Implemented as a stand-alone ordinance

  • As a bylaw in an existing historic preservation or zoning ordinance


What could be reviewed?

  • Buildings built before a specific date or all buildings that have attained a certain age on the date the application is filed.

  • Structures that are visible from a public way

  • Structures of a certain size


What Constitutes Demolition?

A total demolition is the

pulling down, razing or

destruction of the entire

portion or a building or

structure which is above

ground regardless of

whether another building

or structure is

constructed within the

footprint of the

destroyed building or

structure.


A partial demolition is

the pulling down,

destruction, or removal of

a substantial portion of the

building or structure or the

removal of architectural

elements which define or

contribute to the character

of the structure.


Benefits of Demolition Review:

  • Allows time to evaluate the building’s significance and/ or request a qualified professional to assist.

  • If the building is determined to be historically or architecturally significant, the issuance of the demolition permit is delayed for a specific period of time (30, 60, 90 days or more).

  • During that time, the preservation commission, preservation organizations, concerned citizens, and others may explore alternatives to demolition.


Demolition Permit Application

Building over 50 years

Building under 50 years

HPC Review

Building not significant

Demolition permit issued

Building significant

Delay period invoked

Building preserved

Building documented and demolished

The Process

Public hearing


Alternatives that are often considered:

  • rehabilitating the building with the assistance of tax incentives or other financial assistance

  • adapting the building to a new use

  • removing the building to another site

  • finding a new owner who is willing and able to preserve the building

  • incorporating the building into the owner/applicant’s redevelopment plans

  • and using an alternative site for the owner/applicant’s project


What Exceptions May Apply?

Many demolition

review laws recognize

exceptions upon a

showing of economic

hardship or where the

public safety is at

stake.


Developing Your Town’s Program

  • Establish an efficient process

  • Have resources in place which help applicants and/or permitting officials to determine the age and significance of their buildings

  • Keep the community informed

  • Don’t make the delay period too short

  • Give local officials such as the preservation commission the necessary tools to negotiate a solution

  • Enforce your ordinance


Learn from experience in other communities and share your success!

Rolfe Barn, Concord


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