What is the Preservation of Historically Significant Buildings Bylaw?

Enacted by Town Meeting in 2004 and administered by the Historical Commission, Article IX, Section 4, “The Preservation of Historically Significant Buildings” (also known as the “Demolition Delay” Bylaw) is a regulatory tool designed to protect architecturally and historically significant buildings in Swampscott from destruction.

Our bylaw prompts the Building Inspector to notify the Historical Commission when a request is received for the demolition of a building 75 years of age or older. If the Historical Commission determines that a building meets specific criteria for historical significance and should be preserved, a public hearing is scheduled, after which alternatives to demolition can be reviewed for up to 9 months. During this period, the Commission, the owner, and the community explore ways to preserve the building or mitigate the effects of demolition (see the Demolition Permit Process Chart).

Over 130 communities in Massachusetts, including Marblehead, Salem, Beverly, Lynn, Danvers, Ipswich, Saugus, Reading and Topsfield, have enacted a similar bylaw with delay periods ranging from 6 to 18 months (see the List of Communities).