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Historical Commission Sounds Off on Demo Delay Process

Selectmen concerning a number of properties in town that have been demolished without properly going through the demolition delay process, which is part of the town's bylaws.

"The Historical Commission wanted to talk to you this evening about the Demolition Delay Bylaw and the difficulties that we are experiencing in making sure that the conditions of the bylaw are carried out," said Commission Chair Lynne Roberts in her opening statement. Roberts stated the bylaw makes it very clear that property owners, the Historical Commission, and the Building Inspector have responsibilities prior to a structure being demolished. "Over the past year alone, we've had four instances where procedures have not been followed," said Roberts. One such instance concerned one of the last remaining farm houses in town located at 143 Hartford Ave. East, currently owned by Rt. 85 Realty. A demolition permit was issued without delay as the owner agreed to allow the Commission to come in and photograph the structure. "He had also advised the Commission that a new structure, almost identical to the one being demolished, would be built on the land. Neither of these things happened," said Roberts. The property owner, Roberts said, did have the right to demo the property, however one of the

terms of the permit was not met. Another instance occurred in March over the only remaining historic cottages located at 7 Nipmuc Dr. and owned by Benny Pinto. The Historic Commission had hoped to work with the owner to try to preserve the cottages but four months into the six- month delay, the Commission felt there was no way to preserve the property and a demo permit was issued subject to the Commission being allowed into the building to take photos and the Historical Society hoped for one of the front doors for the town's Museum. Neither happened and the buildings were torn down. The Commission, Roberts explained, is currently involved in two other demolition requests; one is for a Hartford Ave. East property and the other is located at 30 Miscoe Rd. and is considered the oldest home in Mendon. Both properties met the criteria for determining the historical significance of a property.

The Commission fears the owners will wait out the six-month demolition delay time

frame and then request an emergency demo permit because the properties are uninhabitable. "They're just being left to rot," said Roberts. The Commission told the Selectmen they are discussing changing the demo bylaw in order to "add more teeth to it," said Roberts, adding the Commission was looking for the Board's support on the measure. The current bylaw states "Any owner of a building or structure or part thereof demolished without first obtaining a demolition permit in accordance with the provisions of this bylaw shall be subject to a fine of $300 per day."

Newly elected Selectman Lawney Tinio questioned whether the problem was more of an enforcement issue and suggested Building Inspector Tim Aicardi and the Historical Commission attend a future meeting for further discussion.




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