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Hearing to allow public input into demolition delay process

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SHIRLEY — The Historical Commission discussed the process of implementing a new bylaw that allows them to deem a building “preferably preserved,” which forces a demolition delay on historically significant properties for up to six months.

The bylaw was enacted in June 2005 to help protect some of Shirley’s historical assets that are listed under Form B of the Massachusetts Historical register.

To initiate the process, the building inspector will advise the Historic Commission on behalf of the town. This will happen after he or she receives the application for a permit to demolish a building that is listed on the Massachusetts register of historic buildings.

At that time, a meeting is held by members to determine if the building is historically significant. If it is found as such, a public hearing with the owners of the property and the commission is scheduled.

”I see the public hearing as a method of allowing the community to have input,” said Chairman Paul Przybyla.

Following the hearing, members will vote in open meeting whether the property is preferably preserved. If the commission votes in favor of implementing the bylaw, a six-month delay is held on the demolition of the building.

The next steps in the process are new to the commission, Przybyla said. The intent is that the commission will work with property owners to determine a reasonable solution to demolition. If no alternative is found, the delay will allow for time to document the property for its historical value.

The discussion comes after two public hearings, during which the commission voted in favor of the delay for two properties.

One of the properties, the Hazen-Davis Barn on Lancaster Road, and owned by GFI-Shirley, LLC, was slated to be moved to Lancaster by Thomas Brownell, owner of Circle B. Circle B is a Clinton-based company specializing in barn restoration.

The purpose of delaying the dismantling of the barn, in this case, was to enable the commission to seek an alternative to moving the barn out of Shirley. The commission will meet with representatives of GFI-Shirley, LLC, on May 2 to discuss any other avenues for either maintaining the barn in its current location or ways to move the barn to another location in Shirley.

”We have a responsibility before that meeting to make sure we cover our promises,” member Donald Reed said. “I think we all benefit to move the process along.”

At Przybyla’s suggestion, the committee will be meeting with the Planning Board to receive some input about what would be required to keep the building in Shirley.

”We need to have raw information as far as the mechanisms from the Planning Board,” Przybyla said.

The committee needs to explore all feasible options to get a better result for the town, said Reed.

”We can only present options,” said member Robert Adam.

At the next meeting with GFI-Shirley, LLC, the commission expects to determine the likelihood of whether the barn will be allowed to stay in its location or if it will need to be moved.

”There’s a very strong sense of agreement between the Planning Board and (GFI-Shirley, LLC) that the barn would be dismantled and would be removed,” Reed said.

At the public hearing, project manager Joseph Cataldo presented only one option, which was that the barn would be moved out of Shirley, according to Przybyla.

The portion of the Orchard Estates parcel the barn sits on is designated in the original plans for the site, said Cataldo.

The Planning Board is not likely to approve changes to the zoning at the project, Reed said.

The difficulty in the process, members agreed, is that the commission can only communicate options to the property owners. In the end, the owners are responsible for any contract for the sale or dismantling of the buildings.

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