Guide to the Demolition of Buildings Ordinance

Why do we have a Demolition Ordinance?

In 1974 the oldest active YMCA building in the world was lost to the wrecking ball. There was no review of its historical significance, no notice to the abutting property owners or general public that the building was coming down. Within a matter of days, the building was gone. That historic YMCA building was in New Bedford.

The devastating loss of the old YMCA and other historic structures led to the creation of the Demolition of Builidngs Ordinance in the City Code.

The purpose of this ordinance is to establish clear review policy and criteria for buildings and structures that may be historically significant and to have that review process open to the public.

The ordinance was written to allow for a streamlined review of buildings that may meet the age requirement (75 years or older) but are not found to be historic, allowing a project to continue through the permiting process without added delay.

The ordinance also was written to allow for a fair review process for buildings that may be historically significant. Adaquate time is given to examine the building and the reasons why its demolition is being requested by the applicant and the potential effects on the neighborhood.

Finally, this process has been designed to allow property owners and neighbors to be notified when a request has been made to demolish a historic building in their neighborhood, giving citizens the opportunity to be aware of, and involved in, changes in thier community.

What are the steps in applying for a Demolition Permit?

  • An applicant files for a demolition permit at the Department of Inspectional Services (DIS) located at City Hall.
  • The DIS certifies the age of the building or structure.
  • If the building is not 75 years old or older, there is no historic review and the DIS may issue a permit once the application has been approved.
  • If the building or structure is 75 years old or older, a Form E-1 is sent to the New Bedford Historical Commission (NBHC) for review.
  • The NBHC determines if the builing is historically significant. A public hearing is only required if a building is historically significant.
  • The NBHC forwards its findings to the New Bedford City Council.
  • The City Council then makes the determination to approve or delay the application for demolition. If the application is approved the DIS may, subject to building codes and other laws, issue the demolition permit. If delayed, no demolition permit may be issued for a minimum period of six months, not to exceed twelve months.

Who can assist me with the Demolition Permit Process?

  • Department of Inspectional Services
    508- 979-1540
  • New Bedford Historical Commission
    508- 996-4095 ext. 6104
  • Office of City Planning
    508- 979-1488

Is there an extra permitting fee for the historic review?

No. The only fee for this process is the fee for the demolition permit. That fee is determined by the DIS at City Hall.

How long will the historic review take?

The historic review process can take as little as 3-4 days for buildings that are determined to not be historically significant. If a building is determined to be historically significant, the public hearing is scheduled within 45 days from receiving a complete demolition plan. The NBHC then fowards its findings to the City Council, which shall act on the application at its next regularly scheduled meeting.

The City of New Bedford does not discriminate on the basis of disability. The information contained in this document may not be complete or fully up to date and is subject to change. To confirm information regarding this permitting process, contact the appropriate City of New Bedford Department. This document may be used strictly for informational purposes.

Ordinance Chapter 2, Section 2- 157

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