Historical Commission

The Historical Commission is appointed by the Board of Selectmen. Its responsibility is to work with the Massachusetts Historical Commission and the Town of Dover to identify, preserve and protect the historical resources of the Town, be they town records and documents or buildings and other structures. In addition, it is the body that administers the Dover Demolition Delay By-law, which was passed by Town Meeting in May 1996.

Members

Position Name Term Expires
Chair Jane Moore 2019
Member Charlotte Surgenor 2019
Member Thomas Johnson 2017
Member  Stephen Kruskall 2018
Historian Paul Tedesco 2019
Member Open 2020
Selectmen’s Liaison Candace McCann 2018

Meetings

Meetings held first Tuesday of each month at 7pm, Dover Town House, Lower Conference Room. Check the Town Calendar for scheduled meeting dates and times. Review the Historical Commission’s meeting minutes for a record of their meetings.

Dover Town Code Description of Responsibilities

Dover Town Code
There shall be a seven-member Historical Commission appointed by the Board of Selectmen on a rotating basis of two or three members each year for three-year terms. The Historical Commission’s duties and authority shall include, but shall not be limited to, those specified in M.G.L. ch. 40, § 8D and ch. 40C, § 14.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of the Demolition Review Bylaw (Chapter 96 of the Dover Town General B-laws)?
The Demolition Review Bylaw was enacted for the purpose of protecting and conserving the architectural, historical and aesthetic resources of the Town of Dover.  Its aim is to encourage owners of “preferably-preserved historically significant buildings” to seek ways to preserve, rehabilitate or restore such buildings rather than demolish them.

How does it do this?
To achieve these goals, this chapter both empowers the Dover Historical Commission to advise the Inspector of Buildings with regard to the issuance of permits for demolition and regulates the issuance of demolition permits for significant buildings.

What action begins the process?
When the Inspector of Buildings receives a completed application for a demolition permit for a building, the Inspector of Buildings submits a copy of the application to the Commission within 7 days of filing and notifies the applicant in writing of this action.

Which structures come under the Bylaw?
Houses, shops, barns, outbuildings and other structures which have a roof and a permanent foundation and serving as a shelter for persons, animals or property.  The structure must have been wholly or in part constructed during or before 1929.

What does the Commission do next?
Within 21 days after the receipt of the application the Commission will meet and determine whether the building or structure is historically significant. The Commission will notify the applicant of the meeting at least 7 days in advance of the meeting, and the applicant for the permit is entitled to make a presentation to the Commission.

What makes a structure historically significant?
The bylaw lists three criteria:

  1. Importantly associated with 1 or more historic persons or events or with the architectural, cultural, political, economic or social history of the Town of Dover or the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; or
  2. Historically or architecturally important by reason of period, style, method of construction or association with a particular architect or builder, either by itself or in the context of a group of buildings or structures; or
  3. Listed on or within an area listed on the National Register of Historic Places or the State Register of Historic Places, or pending listing on such registers.

What happens if my building is not historically significant?
If the Commission so decides, then the Inspector of Buildings will be notified, and the demolition may proceed.

What if the Commission decides my building is historically significant?
If the Commission determines that the building or structure is historically significant, it will notify the Inspector of Buildings and the applicant in writing that a demolition plan review must be made prior to the issuance of a demolition permit.

What is involved in a demolition plan review?
Within 60 days after the applicant is notified that the Commission has determined that a building or structure is historically significant, the applicant for the permit will submit to the Commission 5 copies of a demolition plan which shall include the following information:

  1. A drawing showing the location of the building or structure to be demolished;
  2. A description of the building or structure, or part thereof, to be demolished;
  3. The date of the building as established by the Board of Assessors, deed or other documentation verifying year of construction;
  4. The reason for the proposed demolition with supporting data;
  5. A brief description of the proposed reuse of the parcel on which the building or structure to be demolished is located; and
  6. A certified list of abutters within 300 feet, notwithstanding any intervening water.

And after I submit this information, what happens?
Within 45 days of the receipt of this demolition plan, the Commission will review the application at a public hearing of the Commission to determine if the structure is preferably preserved.  Public notice of such hearing will be published by the Commission at the expense of the applicant in a local newspaper of the time, place and purpose of the hearing once in each of 2 successive weeks, the first publication not less than 14 days before the day of said hearing. The Commission will also mail a copy of sthis notice to the applicant and to all owners of all property within 300 feet of the applicant’s property as appearing on the most recent tax list.

What is a “preferably preserved” structure?
Any historically significant structure which, because of its importance to the Town’s historical or architectural resources or heritage, is in the public interest to preserve, rehabilitate or restore

What happens if the Commission decides my building is preferably preserved?
After a public hearing, if the Commission determines that the demolition of the building would result in the demolition of a significant building whose loss would be detrimental to the historical or architectural heritage or resources of the Town, the building will  be considered a Preferably Preserved Historically Significant Structure and the Commission shall so advise, in writing, both the applicant and the Inspector of Buildings within 7 days of the hearing, and no demolition permit shall be issued until 1 year after the date of such determination by the Commission.

What happens during that year?
During the one-year waiting period, the applicant and the Commission will make a good faith effort to find an alternative use for the building that will result in its preservation. The owner will cooperate with the Commission by providing reasonable access to the structure. Alternatives to demolition include, but are not limited to, incorporation of the building into the future development of the site; adaptive reuse of the building; utilization of financial incentives to rehabilitate the building; seeking a new owner willing to purchase and preserve, restore or rehabilitate the building; or moving or relocating the building.

    The owner is responsible for properly securing the building, if vacant, to the satisfaction of the Inspector of Buildings. Should the owner fail to secure the building to the satisfaction of the Inspector of Buildings, the subsequent destruction of such building through any cause, which destruction could have been prevented by the required security measures, is considered a demolition in violation of the Bylaw.

What if all this fails and the one-year moratorium expires?
If no viable alternatives to the demolition of the building are found during the one-year waiting period, the owner of record shall cooperate with the Commission by permitting reasonable access, with prior notice, to the building for archival and documentation purposes for at least 30 days prior to the expiration of the waiting period.  Upon the expiration of the waiting period, the Inspector of Buildings may issue a demolition permit.

When does the Commission meet?
From September to June, the Commission meets on the first Tuesday of each month.  The Commission may also meet at other times necessitated by the strict timelines in the Demolition Review Bylaw. Look at the Meeting Calendar for specific dates and times.

Who appoints the members of the Commission?
The seven members are appointed by the Board of Selectmen for rotating three-year terms.