Application Forms (Demolition Delay)

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Overview of Amherst demolition delay bylaw (article 13)


Finding that the economic, cultural and aesthetic standing of the Town of Amherst can best be maintained and enhanced by due regard for the historical and architectural heritage of the Town and by striving to discourage the destruction of such cultural assets, it is hereby declared as a matter of public policy that the protection, enhancement, perpetuation and use of structures of historical and architectural significance, located within the Town of Amherst, is a public necessity, and is required in the interest of the prosperity, civic pride and general welfare of the people.

  • Bylaw applies to any building that is 50 years or older when an applicant is proposing to demolish the whole building, part of the building, or important architectural features. 
  • Applicant submits an application (see above) outlining the scope of work and provides a historical narrative. Contact Town Staff in the Planning Department with questions on this step.
  • The Historical Commission then holds a Public Hearing to determine if the Building is:
      1. Historically Significant (based on criteria in Article 13) and
      2. Should be Preferably Preserved, that is, whether a 12-month delay should be placed on the demolition of the Building
If a 12-month delay is placed on the demolition of a Building, the Historical Commission will work closely with the applicant to pursue alternatives to demolition, such as preservation, rehabilitation, adaptive reuse, or re-location. The applicant may apply to the Commission to have the delay lifted during the 12-month delay period if such efforts have been unsuccessful or to enable the relocation of the Building. After the expiration of the delay, the applicant may demolish the Building once a permit is approved. 

Summary of Demolition Delay Bylaws in Massachusetts

  • As of March 2004, 98 Massachusetts communities had demolition delay bylaws to protect local historic resources. There are now over 100.
  • Most communities use 6 month delays, but a wide variety of delay periods are used, including 30-45 days, and 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, or 12 months. An 18 month delay period was recently proposed.
  • The Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC) recommends a 12 month delay “because of the time-consuming planning efforts that are necessary when rehabilitation or moving an historic building are pursued.”
  • Other Massachusetts communities with 12 month delay periods include, but are not limited to (based on a partial computer search):
    • Beverly
    • Chatham
    • Chelmsford
    • Franklin
    • Freetown
    • Ipswich
    • Newton
    • Northampton (adopted 5/10/05)
    • Orleans (amended from 6 to 12 months, 11/7/05)
    • Upton
    • Watertown