By Barbara Taormina
Anyone living in an older home in Malden may now need approval from the Historical Commission before making any changes to the exterior façade. The City Council this week passed the Demolition and Alteration Delay Ordinance, which will give the city up to 12 months to work with property owners to find alternatives to razing or remodeling structures that have some historical significance because of ties to the architectural, political, cultural, economic or cultural history of Malden.
The city issues about five demolition permits each year, so much of the review by the Historical Commission will involve older homes that owners plan to renovate or remodel. The goal is to preserve the city’s older buildings, streetscapes and neighborhoods.
“This only applies if you are doing something on the exterior façade,” said Ordinance Committee Chairman Ryan O’Malley, adding that renovations to kitchens, bathrooms and any interior work is not subject to review.
O’Malley said the ordinance will not lead to infringement on personal property rights. “I’m sure this ordinance will be used in a commonsense manner,” he said.
Still, roughly 1,000 homes and buildings throughout the city will be impacted by the new ordinance. If the Historical Commission determines that proposed alterations to the façade of a building would have a negative impact on the historical or architectural integrity of the neighborhood or disrupt the urban design of the area, permits for alteration work can be delayed for up to one year. During that 12-month delay, owners will be encouraged to look for ways to preserve historical buildings or to sell their properties to new owners willing to undertake the preservation work. Following the 12-month delay period, the building inspector can issue a permit for alterations.
Councillors unanimously supported the new ordinance and the effort to protect and preserve the city’s architectural character and its links to the past. They urged property owners to work with the city as it implements the new rules.
“People should know that if they are in an old Victorian home and are planning alterations, they should come in and talk to the building department or the Historical Commission,” said Ward 5 Councillor Barbara Murphy.