Monday, December 13, 2010

Demolition by Neglect

Repeatedly throughout this village, owners allow historic structures to fall into such a state of repair and ultimately gain approval to tear them down. It happens all the time and now the village contains precious few surviving accessory structures. The Talty’s recently received a Certificate of Appropriateness to demolish their circa 1890s barn, one of the few remaining intact barns left. They supplied an engineer’s report and said it has basically disintegrated and there is nothing left to save; the roof is caving in and starting to leak and the walls are bowed/deflecting outward. Here’s the thing though: this property has been technically owned by the Talty’s since 2005, but in the family for many more years. If the barn is in terrible shape it’s because the owners made little to no effort to maintain it. Now their plans are to reproduce it almost exactly, just like they did their house not too long ago. The whole property now will consist of, yet another, bunch of reproductions.

The Town of Huntington includes great maintenance provisions within the Historic District and Landmarks section of their codes, and they’ve existed since 1984! They are as follows.

Chapter 198, Article VI, 198-40.6:

A. No owner, occupier or person with an interest in a historic landmark, or in any open space, place or structure within a historic district shall permit the same to fall into a serious state of disrepair so as to result in the deterioration of any exterior or scenic feature, including but not limited to:
(1) Deterioration of exterior walls or other vertical supports;
(2) Deterioration of roofs or other horizontal members;
(3) Deterioration of exterior chimneys;
(4) Deterioration or crumbling of exterior facade, stucco, shingles or mortar;
(5) Ineffective waterproofing of exterior walls, roofs or foundations, including broken windows or doors;
(6) Deterioration of any feature so as to create a hazardous and unsafe condition which may result in a claim that demolition, in whole or in part, is necessary to protect the public health or safety;
(7) Material deterioration of the aesthetic or scenic appearance of any portion of the open space or real property including its topographical features and earthworks.

B. An owner, occupier or person with an interest in a historic district, or in any open space, place or structure within a historic district who causes, permits and/or allows the same to fall into a serious state of disrepair shall be in violation of this section, and in addition to any other penalty imposed by law, shall be required to restore the open space, place or structure to its appearance prior to the violation.

Our village desperately needs to implement these codes.

By the way, there’s a large, GORGEOUS and intact carriage house on Gin Lane, at #88, built for Henry Barnes circa 1894. This is another example of demolition by neglect. The owners tried to have it demolished years ago but were denied (phew!). But now there it sits, slowly decaying. The photo below is of the back, or east, circa 1897 (courtesy of the Southampton Historical Museum).

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