The Building-Permit Application Process under the Town of Washington’s Delay-of-Demolition Ordinance
The citizens of the Town of Washington voted in May 2022 to allow the imposition of a waiting period of not more than 120 days before granting a demolition permit for certain structures of architectural, historical and/or cultural importance. The ordinance applies to structures seventy-five (75) years and older and greater than five hundred (500) square feet or more in area. The provisions of this ordinance are supplemental to Section 29 – 406 of the Connecticut General Statutes and the State Demolition Code. It is important that the applicant review the definition of demolition found in Sec. 11 of the ordinance as it includes significant renovation as well as complete demolition.
The Town of Washington constituted a Delay-of-Demolition (“DoD”) Commission in September 2022 to monitor and evaluate applications for structure demolition as defined in the ordinance and whether those structures fall under the provisions of the ordinance. Details of the Commission, its members as well as various supporting documents can be found on this web site.
\In order to provide guidance to all parties involved in the process, including property owners, contractors, architects, architectural design consultants, and real estate professionals, the following summarizes the steps required to be in compliance with the provisions of the ordinance. PLEASE REVIEW CAREFULLY THE PROVISIONS OF THE ORDINANCE TO ENSURE THAT THE PROCESS GOES SMOOTHLY.
- When an applicant applies for a building permit with the Town Building Inspector (“Inspector”) for a structure 75 years or older and has checked the box for demolition, the applicant will receive from and file both an application for demolition/renovation and a Notice to Demolish with the Inspector.
- The building inspector will send the Notice to Demolish to the DoD Commission.
- When the DoD Commission receives the Notice to Demolish, it then determines if the structure falls under the requirements of the ordinance. See evaluation criteria used to assess the application on this web site.
- Within two weeks, the Commission will notify the applicant in writing if the structure in question falls under the requirements of the ordinance. If the Commission does not deem the structure to be historic, the applicant can proceed with its demolition plans.
- If the Commission concludes that the structure does meet the criteria to delay demolition plans, the findings of the Commission shall be sent to the applicant in writing, and the 120-day delay period will begin as of that date. The applicant can object in writing to this decision.
- The applicant has 14 days to undertake the following (Section 5 of the ordinance): 1) public notification (details in Section 6 of ordinance); 2) notices posted in visible and conspicuous locations on property; and 3) a signed statement by the applicant on the “Verification of Notice” form that all requirements of the ordinance have been complied with.
- If a dated, written objection is made by the applicant, the Commission strongly recommends that the applicant meet with the Commission as soon as possible to discuss its findings and, in turn, for the applicant to provide reasons for its objections. The Commission believes that many property owners and their representatives may not be aware of the historical, architectural and/or cultural significance of the structure in question. It hopes that such a meeting will begin a process of evaluating project alternatives to the proposed demolition, including preservation, restoration, rehabilitation and/or detailed recordation of the affected structure.
- During the 30 days after a written objection has been made, the Commission will actively work with the applicant and its representatives to evaluate the property, make site visits and use experts, if necessary, in various aspects of possible renovations/restorations of the structure to assess project alternatives. The Commission hopes that this process is positive and will be handled in a manner that is beneficial to the property owner.
- During the 120-day period, the applicant will secure and maintain the structure in a manner that minimizes the risk of water penetration, vandalism, fire or other damage. At the end of the 120-day waiting period, if written objections have been addressed or if the Commission deems that steps have been taken to accomplish the purpose of the ordinance, the Commission shall make a finding that no further delay is necessary.