Demolition Delay Bylaw


Image:  The Old Town Hall, donated by Cyrus Wakefield, demolished in 1958.

The Wakefield Historical Commission maintains the town’s Demolition Delay Bylaw (section 126 of the Town’s General Laws) in order to attempt to preserve and protect Wakefield’s significant sites.



Section 1. Intent and Purpose.

This by-law is adopted for the purpose of preserving and protecting, through advance notice of their proposed demolition, significant buildings within the Town which constitute or reflect distinctive features of the architectural, cultural, political, economic or social history of the town; to encourage owners of preferably-preserved significant buildings to seek out persons who might be willing to purchase and to preserve, rehabilitate, or restore such buildings, rather than demolish them; and by furthering these purposes to promote the public welfare, to preserve the resources of the Town, and to make the Town a more attractive and desirable place in which to live. To achieve these purposes, the Wakefield Historical ommission is empowered to advise the Wakefield Building Inspector with respect to the issuance of permits for demolition, and the issuance of demolition permits for significant buildings is regulated as provided in this by-law.

Section 2. Definitions.

The following terms, when used whether or not capitalized in this by-law, shall have the meanings set forth below unless the context otherwise requires.

2.1 “Building” – any combination of materials forming a shelter for persons, animals or property.

2.2 “Significant building: – any building:

(a) which is listed on, or is within an area listed on, the National
Register of Historic Places, or which is the subject of a pending application for listing on said National Register; or

(b) which is or has been listed on an inventory provided to
the Building Inspector by the Commission.

2.3 “Preferably-preserved significant building” – any significant building which the Commission determines is in the public interest to be preserved or rehabilitated rather than to be demolished.

2.4. “Commission” – the Wakefield Historical Commission.

2.5 “Commission staff” – the chairperson of the Commission, or any person to whom the Commission has delegated authority to act as commission staff under this by-law.

2.6. “Inventory” – a list of buildings on file at the Massachusetts Historical Commission that have been designated by the Commission to be significant buildings after a finding by the Commission that a building either

(i) is importantly associated with one or more historic
persons or events, or with the broad architectural,
cultural, political, economic or social history of the
Town or the Commonwealth, or

(ii) is historically or architecturally significant (in
terms of period, style, method of building construction,
or association with a famous architect or builder ) either
by itself or in the context of a group of buildings.

2.7 “Building Inspector” – the person occupying the office of Building
Inspector or otherwise authorized to issue demolition permits.

2.8 “Application” – an application for a permit for the demolition of a building.

2.9 “Permit” – a permit issued by the Building Inspector for demolition of a building pursuant to an application therefor.

2.10 “Demolition” – the act of pulling down, destroying, removing, or razing a building, or commencing the work of total or substantial destruction with the intent of completing the same.

2.11 “Business day” – a day which is not a legal municipal holiday, Saturday or Sunday.

Section 3. Procedure.  [Added 11-5-2018 RTM by Art. 181]:  Application for permit; review by Commission

3.1. The building Inspector, on the day of receipt of an application for demolition of a listed significant building or within the next five successive business days, shall cause a copy of each such application for a demolition permit to be forwarded to (or shall satisfy himself that a duplicate of such application has been submitted to ) the Commission. No demolition permit shall be issued at that time.

[Added 11-5-2018 RTM by Art. 181]:  Promptly after receiving a copy of such application, the Commission shall notify the applicant that if he or she desires to request a waiver of the 6-month demolition delay called for under this Bylaw, then a hearing fee of $250 must be received.”)

3.2. The Commission shall fix a reasonable time, within 30 days of receiving a copy of such application  such payment, for a hearing on the application and shall give public notice thereof by publishing notice of the time, place, and purpose of the hearing in a local newspaper at least fourteen days before said hearing and also, within seven days of said hearing, mail a copy of said notice to the applicant, to the owners of all adjoining properties and all property deemed by the Commission to be affected thereby as they appear on the most recent local tax list, to the Wakefield Planning Board and to such other persons as the Commission shall deem entitled to notice.

3.3 If, after such hearing, the Commission determines that the demolition of the significant building would not be detrimental to the historical or architectural heritage or resources of the Town, the Commission shall so notify the Building Inspector within ten (10) days of such determination. Upon receipt of such notification, or after the expiration of fifteen (15) days from the date of the conclusion of the hearing if he has not received notification from the Commission, the Building Inspector may, subject to the requirements of the State Building Code and any other applicable laws, by-laws, rules and regulations, issue the demolition permit.

3.4 If the Commission determines that the demolition of the significant building would be detrimental to the historical or architectural heritage or resources of the Town, such building shall be considered a preferably-preserved significant building.

3.5 Upon a determination by the Commission that the significant building which is the subject of the application for a demolition permit is a preferably-preserved significant building, the Commission shall so advise the applicant and the Building Inspector, and no demolition permit may be issued until at least six months after the date of the application for demolition.

3.6 Notwithstanding the preceding sentence, the Building Inspector may issue a demolition permit for a preferably-preserved significant building at any time after the receipt of written advice from the Commission to the effect that either

(a) the Commission is satisfied that there is no reasonable likelihood that either the owner or some other person or group is willing to purchase, preserve, rehabilitate or restore such building, or

(b) the Commission is satisfied that for at least six months the owner has made continuing, bona fide and reasonable efforts to locate a purchaser to preserve, rehabilitate and restore the subject building, and that such efforts have been unsuccessful.

3.7. No permit for erection for new structure on the site of an existing significant building may be issued prior to issuance of a permit for demolition of such existing building.

Section 4. Emergency Demolition.

Nothing in this article shall be construed to derogate in any way from the authority of the Inspector of Buildings derived from Chapter 143 of the General Laws. However, before acting pursuant to this chapter the Inspector of Buildings shall make every reasonable effort to inform the Chairperson of the Historical Commission of his intentions to cause demolition before he initiates same.

§ 126-5. Enforcement [Added 11-5-2018 RTM by Art. 181]

  1. The Commission and the Building Inspector are each specifically authorized to institute any and all actions and proceedings, in law or equity, as they may deem necessary or appropriate to obtain compliance with the requirements of this Chapter 126 and/or to prevent a threatened violation thereof.
  2. Any owner of a significant building who demolishes such structure without first obtaining a demolition permit in accordance with the provisions hereof shall be subject to a fine of $300. Each day the

1. Editor’s Note: This article also redesignated former § 126-5 as § 126-6.



§ 126-5 WAKEFIELD CODE § 126-6

violation exists shall constitute a separate offense until a faithful restoration of the demolished significant building is completed or unless otherwise agreed by the Commission.

C. If a significant building is demolished without a demolition permit having been issued in accordance with the provisions hereof, no building permit shall be issued for a period of two years from the date of the demolition on the subject parcel of land or any adjoining parcels of land under common ownership or control unless the permit is for the faithful restoration referred to in § 126-5B, above, or unless otherwise agreed by the Commission.

§ 126-6. Severability.

If any section, paragraph or part of this Article is for any reason declared invalid or unconstitutional by any court, every other section, paragraph and part shall continue in full force and effect.

Or take any other action related thereto.