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Historic Districts Zones
As Amended Through April 2010
TOWN OF CONCORD
Special Act—Historic Districts Commission

AN ACT ESTABLISHING AN HISTORIC DISTRICTS COMMISSION FOR THE TOWN OF CONCORD AND DEFINING ITS POWERS AND DUTIES, ESTABLISHING HISTORIC DISTRICTS IN THE TOWN OF CONCORD, AND PROVIDING FOR HISTORIC ZONING DISTRICTS.

Be it enacted etc., as follows:
SECTION 1. PURPOSE.
The purpose of this Act is to promote the educational, cultural, economic and general welfare of the public through the preservation and protection of buildings, places and districts of historic or literary significance through the development and maintenance of appropriate settings for said buildings, places and districts and through the maintenance of said buildings, places and districts as sites and landmarks compatible with the literary and historic tradition of Concord.
SECTION 2. ESTABLISHING OF DISTRICTS.
(a)     There is hereby established in the town of Concord the following historic districts:
BARRETT FARM DISTRICT.
AMERICAN MILE DISTRICT.
NORTH BRIDGE – MONUMENT SQUARE DISTRICT.
MAIN STREET DISTRICT
HUBBARDVILLE DISTRICT
CHURCH STREET DISTRICT

(b)     The locations and boundaries of the historic districts shall be as shown on the map on file in the office of town clerk entitled “HISTORIC DISTRICTS, TOWN OF CONCORD” scale of 1” = 100’, consisting of 15 sheets, dated January 1985 as may be amended from time to time in accordance with section twelve.

(c)     For purposes of interpretation of the “HISTORIC DISTRICTS” map, the following shall apply:

(1)     Boundaries which appear to follow streets, railroad rights of way, or rivers and streams, shall coincide with the centerline thereof.

(2)     Where a district boundary appears to divide a lot, the entire lot shall be considered to be within the historic district for the purposes of this act.
SECTION 3. DEFINITIONS.
As used in this Act, the following words and terms shall have the following meanings:

“Building”, a combination of materials having a roof and forming a shelter for persons, animals or property.

“Building inspector”, the building inspector of the Town of Concord.

“Commission”, the historic districts commission established by Section Four.

“Erected”, the word “erected” includes the words “built”, “constructed”, “reconstructed”, “restored”, “altered”, “enlarged”, and “moved”.

“Exterior architectural feature”, the architectural style and general arrangement of such portion of the exterior of a building or structure as is designed to be open to view from a public street, way or place including the kind, color and texture of the building materials of such portion and the type and style of all windows, doors, lights, signs and other fixtures appurtenant to such portion.

“Historic districts”, the districts established by Section Two.

“Lot”, an area of land in one ownership with definitive boundaries ascertainable from a recorded deed or recorded plan.

“Person”, the word “person” includes an individual, a corporate or unincorporated organization or association and the Town of Concord.

“Structure”, a combination of materials, other than a building, sign or billboard, but including a stone wall.
SECTION 4. CREATION AND ORGANIZATION OF HISTORIC DISTRICTS COMMISSION.
There is hereby created in the Town of Concord an Historic Districts Commission consisting of five unpaid members who shall be residents of the Town of Concord, to be appointed by the Selectmen of the Town. One member shall be appointed from one of two candidates nominated by the Concord Antiquarian Society, doing business as The Concord Museum, the term of such member will expire in the case of the first appointment one year from January first following the year of that appointment and every five years thereafter. One member shall be appointed from one of two candidates nominated by the Trustees of the Concord Free Public Library Corporation; the term of such member will expire in the case of the first appointment two years from January first following the year of that appointment and every five years thereafter. One member shall be appointed from one of two candidates nominated by the Concord Planning Board; the term of such member will expire in the case of the first appointment three years from January first following the year of that appointment and every five years thereafter. One member shall be appointed from one of two candidates nominated by the Concord Natural Resources Commission; the term of such member will expire in the case of the first appointment four years from January first following the year of that appointment and every five years thereafter. One member shall be appointed at large by the Selectmen; the term of such member will expire five years from January first following the year of that appointment and every five years thereafter.

The Selectmen also shall appoint for terms of five years from January first following the year of such appointments five associate members of the commission selected from candidates nominated by the aforesaid organization, trustees, planning board and commission, each such organization, trustees, board and commission to nominate two each when two or more associate members are to be appointed and to nominate one each when only one associate member is to be appointed. In case of the absence, inability to act, or interest on the part of a member of the commission his place may be taken by an associate member designated by the chairman of the commission. In case of a vacancy on said commission the chairman may designate an associate member to serve as a member of the commission until said vacancy is filled as provided in this Section. As the term of any member or associate member expires, his successor shall be appointed in like manner for a term of five years. Vacancies in the commission shall be filled in the same manner for the unexpired term. Every member and associate member shall continue in office after the expiration of his term until his successor is duly appointed and qualified. Any member or associate member may be removed for cause by the appointing authority upon written charges and after a public hearing. If the Trustees of the Concord Free Public Library Corporation, the Planning Board, the Natural Resources Commission, or the Concord Antiquarian Society, doing business as the Concord Museum, fail to nominate candidates in accordance with this section within ninety days of a written request by the Board of Selectmen for nominees, the Board of Selectmen may proceed with an appointment to fill the vacancy.

The commission shall elect a chairman and secretary from its membership. In the case of absence of the chairman from any meeting, the commission shall elect a chairman pro tempore for such meeting.
SECTION 5. LIMITATIONS.
(a)     No building or structure, except as provided under Section Six, shall be erected within the historic districts unless and until an application for a certificate of appropriateness as to exterior architectural features which are subject to view from a public street, way or place shall have been filed with the commission and either a certificate of appropriateness or a certificate that no exterior architectural feature is involved, shall have been issued by the commission.

(b)     No building or structure within the historic districts, except as provided in Section Six, shall be changed as to exterior color features which are subject to view from a public street, way or place unless and until an application for a certificate of appropriateness as to change in such color features shall have been filed with the commission and such certificate shall have been issued by the commission.

(c)     No building or structure within the historic districts, except as provided under Section Six, shall be demolished or removed unless and until an application for a permit to demolish or remove the same shall have been filed with the commission, and such permit shall have been issued by the commission.

(d)     No occupational, commercial or other sign, except as provided under Section Six, and no billboard which is subject to view from a public street, way or place shall be erected or displayed within the historic districts unless and until an application for a certificate of appropriateness shall have been filed with the commission, and such certificate shall have been issued by the commission. In the case of any such sign or billboard erected or displayed prior to the effective date of this Act, there shall be allowed a period of five years, subsequent to said effective date, in which to obtain such certificate.

(e)     No landscaping feature which was considered in granting a certificate of appropriateness or permit for demolition or removal and referred to in such certificate or permit as a necessary condition to the granting of such approval shall be changed, except for ordinary maintenance.

(f)     Except in cases excluded by Section Six:

(1)     No permit shall be issued by the building inspector for any building or structure to be erected within the historic districts, until a certificate of appropriateness or a certificate that no exterior architectural feature is involved has been issued under Section Nine.

(2)     No permit shall be issued by the building inspector for the demolition or removal of any building or structure within the historic districts until a permit has been issued under Section Nine.
SECTION 6. EXCLUSIONS.
(a)     Nothing in this Act shall be construed to prevent the ordinary maintenance or repair of any exterior architectural feature of any building or structure within the historic districts; nor shall anything in this Act be construed to prevent landscaping changes except landscaping changes, involving more than ordinary maintenance, which relate to landscaping features considered in granting a certificate of appropriateness or permit for demolition or removal and referred to in such certificate or permit as a necessary condition to the granting of such approval; nor shall anything in this Act be construed to prevent the erection, construction, reconstruction, restoration, alteration or demolition of any such feature which the building inspector shall certify is required by the public safety because of an unsafe or dangerous condition; nor shall anything in this Act be construed to prevent the erection, construction, reconstruction, alteration or demolition of any such feature under a permit issued by the building inspector prior to the effective date of this Act.

(b)     The following structures and signs may be erected or displayed within the historic districts without the filing of an application for, or the issuance of, a certificate of appropriateness:

(1)     Temporary structures or signs for use in connection with any official celebration or parade, or any charitable drive in the Town; provided, that any such structure or sign shall be removed within three days following the termination of the celebration, parade or charitable drive for which said structure or sign shall have been erected or displayed. Any other temporary structures or signs which the commission shall determine from time to time may be excluded from the provisions of Section Five without substantial derogation from the intent and purposes of this Act.

(2)     Real estate signs of not more than three square feet in area advertising the sale or rental of the premises on which they are erected or displayed.

(3)     Occupational or other signs of not more than one square foot in area and not more than one such sign, irrespective of size, bearing the name, occupation or address of the occupant of the premises on which such sign is erected or displayed where such premises are located within a single residence district as defined in the Zoning By-Law of the Town of Concord.

(c)     The exterior color of any building or structure within the historic districts may be changed without the filing of an application for, or the issuance of, a certificate of appropriateness to any color or any combination of colors which the commission shall determine from time to time may be used without substantial derogation from the intent and purposes of this act.
SECTION 7. APPLICATION TO BE FILED WITH COMMISSION.
Excepting cases excluded by Section Six, any person who desires to erect, build, construct, reconstruct, restore, alter, move, demolish, remove or change the exterior color features of any building or structure now or hereafter within the historic districts, or to erect or display within the historic districts any sign or billboard for which a certificate of appropriateness is required under paragraph (d) of Section Five, shall file with the commission an application for a certificate of appropriateness or a permit for demolition or removal, as the case may be, together with such plans, elevations, specifications, material and other information drawn to scale, as shall be deemed necessary by the commission to enable it to make a determination on the application.
SECTION 8. MEETINGS, HEARINGS, TIME FOR MAKING DETERMINATIONS.
Meetings of the commission shall be held at the call of the chairman and also when called in such other manner as the commission shall determine in its rules. Five members, including associate members, of the commission shall constitute a quorum. The commission shall determine promptly, and in all events within fourteen days, after the filing of an application for a certificate of appropriateness as to exterior architectural features, whether the application involves any such features. If the commission determines that such application involves any exterior architectural features, the commission shall hold a public hearing on such application. The commission also shall hold a public hearing on all other applications required to be filed with it under this Act, except that the commission may approve an application for a change in exterior color features without holding a hearing if it determines that the color change proposed is appropriate.

The commission shall fix a reasonable time for the hearing on any 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 property deemed by the commission to be affected thereby as they appear on the most recent local tax list, to the planning board of the Town, and to such other persons as the commission shall deem entitled to notice.

As soon as convenient after such public hearing but in any event within sixty days after the filing of the application, or within such further time as the applicant shall allow in writing, the commission shall make a determination on the application. If the commission shall fail to make a determination within said forty-five days, or within such further time allowed by the applicant, the commission shall be deemed to have approved the application.
SECTION 9. POWERS, FUNCTIONS, AND DUTIES OF COMMISSION.
The commission shall have the following powers, functions and duties:

(a)     It shall pass upon:

(1)     The appropriateness of exterior architectural features of buildings and structures to be erected within the historic districts wherever such features are subject to view from a public street, way or place.

(2)     The appropriateness of changes in exterior color features of buildings and structures within the historic districts wherever such features are subject to view from a public street, way or place.

(3)     The demolition or removal of any building or structure within the historic districts. The commission may refuse a permit for the demolition or removal of any building or structure of architectural or historic interest, the removal of which in the opinion of the commission would be detrimental to the public interest.

(4)     The appropriateness of the erection or display of occupational, commercial or other signs and billboards within the historic districts wherever a certificate of appropriateness for any such sign or billboard is required under paragraph (d) of Section Five.

In passing upon appropriateness, demolition or removal, the commission shall determine whether the features, demolition or removal, sign or billboard involved will be appropriate for the purposes of this Act and, if it shall be determined to be inappropriate, shall determine whether, owing to conditions especially affecting the building, structure, sign or billboard involved, but not affecting the historic district generally, failure to approve an application will involve a substantial hardship, financial or otherwise, to the applicant and whether such application may be approved without substantial detriment to the public welfare and without substantial derogation from the intent and purposes of this Act. If the commission determines that the features, demolition or removal, sign or billboard involved will be appropriate or, although inappropriate, owing to conditions as aforesaid, failure to approve an application will involve substantial hardship to the applicant and approval thereof may be made without substantial detriment or derogation as aforesaid, the commission shall approve the application; but if the commission does not so determine, the application shall be disapproved.

In passing upon appropriateness the commission shall consider, among other things, the historical and literary value and significance of the site, building or structure, the general design, arrangement, texture, material and color of the features, sign or billboard involved, and the relation of such factors to similar factors of sites, buildings and structures in the immediate surroundings. The commission shall consider the appropriateness of the size and shape of the building or structure in relation to (a) the land area upon which the building or structure is situated, (b) the landscaping and planting features proposed by the applicant and c) the neighboring sites, buildings or structures within the district. The commission shall also consider the applicable zoning and other by-laws of the Town. The commission shall not consider detailed designs, interior arrangement and other building features not subject to public view.

In approving an application the commission may impose conditions which, if the certificate of appropriateness is acted upon, shall be binding upon the applicant, the owner of the property and his successors in title. Prior to approving an application subject to conditions, the commission may notify the applicant of its proposed action and permit the applicant to express his opinion thereon. The concurring vote of three members, including associate members, of the commission shall be necessary to make a determination in favor of the applicant on any matter upon which the commission is required to pass under this Act.

(b)     In the case of an approval by the commission of an application for a certificate of appropriateness or a permit for demolition or removal, or in the event an application is deemed approved through failure to make a determination within the time specified in Section Eight, the commission shall cause a certificate of appropriateness or a permit for demolition or removal, as the case may be, dated and signed by its chairman or chairman pro tempore, to be issued to the applicant.

(c)     In the case of disapproval of an application for a certificate of appropriateness or a permit for demolition or removal, the commission shall cause a notice of its determination, dated and signed by its chairman or chairman pro tempore, to be issued to the applicant, setting forth therein the reasons for its determination, and, as to applications for a certificate of appropriateness, the commission may make recommendations to the applicant with respect to appropriateness of design, arrangement, texture, material, color and similar factors. Prior to the issuance of any disapproval, the commission may notify the applicant of its proposed action accompanied by recommendations of changes in the applicant’s proposal which, if made, would make the application acceptable to the commission. If within ten days of the receipt of such a notice the applicant files a written modification of his application in conformity with the recommended changes of the commission, the commission shall cause a certificate of appropriateness or permit for demolition or removal, as the case may be, dated and signed by its chairman or chairman pro tempore, to be issued to the applicant.

(d)     In the case of a determination by the commission that an application for a certificate of appropriateness does not involve any exterior architectural feature, the commission shall cause a certificate of such determination, dated and signed by its chairman or chairman pro tempore, to be issued forthwith to the applicant.

(e)     The commission shall keep a permanent record of its resolutions, transactions, and determinations, and may make such rules and regulations consistent with this Act and prescribe such forms as it shall deem desirable and necessary.

(f)     The commission shall file with the Town Clerk a notice of all determinations made by it, and approvals of applications through failure of the commission to make a determination within the time allowed under Section Eight, except that no notice of a determination that an application for a certificate of appropriateness does not involve any exterior architectural feature shall be filed.

(g)     The commission may incur expenses necessary to the carrying on of its work within the amount of its appropriation.
SECTION 10. APPEALS.
Any person aggrieved by a determination of the commission or by an approval of an application through failure of the commission to make a determination within the time allowed under Section Eight, whether or not previously a party to the proceeding, or any officer or board of the Town may, within twenty days after the filing of a notice of such determination or approval with the Town Clerk, appeal to the Superior Court sitting in equity for the County of Middlesex. Notice of the action with a copy of the complaint shall be given to the Town Clerk so as to be received with such twenty days. The court shall hear all pertinent evidence and determine the facts and if, upon the facts so determined, such determination or approval is found to exceed the authority of the commission, the court shall annul such determination or approval and remand the case for further action by the commission. The remedies provided by this action shall be exclusive; but the parties shall have all rights of appeal and exception as in other equity cases. Costs shall not be allowed against the commission unless it shall appear to the court that the commission acted in bad faith or with malice in the matter from which the appeal was taken.

Costs shall not be allowed against the party appealing from such determination or approval of the commission unless it shall appear to the court that said party acted in bad faith or with malice in making the appeal in court.
SECTION 11. ENFORCEMENT.
Any person who violates any of the provisions of this Act shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be fined not less than ten dollars nor more than five hundred dollars.

The Superior Court sitting in equity for the County of Middlesex shall have jurisdiction to enforce the provisions of this act and the determinations, rulings and regulations issued thereunder and may restrain by injunction violations thereof and issue such other orders for relief of violations as may be required.
SECTION 12. CHANGES IN HISTORIC DISTRICTS.
The districts described in Section Two may be enlarged or reduced and new districts may be created by a two-thirds vote at any regular or special Town Meeting called for the purpose. Prior to any such action, the planning board shall hold a public hearing, duly advertised, thereon and shall report its recommendations to the Town Meeting.
SECTION 13. HISTORIC ZONING.
The Town of Concord by a two-thirds vote at any regular or special Town Meeting called for the purpose may enact additions, changes or amendments to its zoning By-laws to assist in carrying out the purpose of this Act. Prior to any such enactment, the planning board shall hold a public hearing, duly advertised, thereon and shall report its recommendations to the Town Meeting.
SECTION 14. SEVERABILITY OF PROVISIONS.
The provisions of this Act shall be deemed to be severable; and in case any section, paragraph or part of this Act shall be held unconstitutional by any court of competent jurisdiction, the decision of such court shall not affect or impair the validity of any other sections, paragraphs or parts of this Act.
SECTION 15.
This Act shall take effect upon its acceptance by the Town of Concord at an annual Town Meeting or at any special Town Meeting called for the purpose.


Approved by the State Legislature May 2, 1960
Authorized under Article 56, Town Meeting, March 1960
Adopted at the Annual Town Meeting under Article 51, March 6 & 13, 1961
Chapter 499, Acts of 1972 (as authorized by Article 65, Annual Town Meeting, March 1972)(§4 Amended)
Article 8, Special Town Meeting, October 1972 (§2 Amended)
Articles 52 and 53, Annual Town Meeting, March 1973 (§2 Amended)
Chapter 223, Acts of 1983 (as authorized by Article 38, Annual Town Meeting April 1983) (§6 Amended)
Chapter 213, Acts of 1985 (as authorized by Article 25, Annual Town Meeting, April 1985) (§§2 and 3 Amended)
Article 45, Annual Town Meeting, May 1998 (§2 Amended)
Article 34, Annual Town Meeting, April 2005 (§2 Amended)
Article 44, Annual Town Meeting, April 2008 (Main Street District extended)
Chapter 108, Acts of 2010 (as authorized by Article 70, Annual Town Meeting April 2010 & previously by Article 38, Annual Town Meeting, April 2007) (§§4, 8 and 10 Amended)



 
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