The City of Buffalo

Agenda Item

Franczyk - Strengthening Preservation Code


Department:Common CouncilSponsors:Fillmore District Council Member David A. Franczyk


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Whereas,              The City of Buffalo Preservation Board was created in The City Charter to protect historic resources within The City, as codified in Section 337 of the Charter;

Whereas,              while Sec. 337 concerns protections for properties designated as city landmarks, The Common Council also approved Section 103-6 that requires any applicant for a demolition permit to be referred to the Office of Strategic Planning and the Preservation Board for its review, whether or not the property was a landmark, or eligible for landmark status, in order to assess and potentially protect an historic resource;

Whereas,              a recent decision by a State Supreme Court judge appears to weaken a portion of Sec. 103-6 of the Preservation Code, arguing that review of a non-landmarked structure by the Office of Strategic Planning and the Preservation Board is merely advisory insofar as a petitioner’s request for a demolition permit is reduced to a ministerial act, compelling the Commissioner of Inspections to issue a demolition permit as a matter of right, regardless of the possibility that the structure in question may be worthy of landmarking and protection;

Whereas,              the judge’s ruling also infers that buildings on the National or State Historic Registry are also subject to de facto demolition by right without substantive City review;

Whereas,              Section 103-6 gives the Commissioner of Inspections the power to “accept or reject the completed [demolition] application within 60 days after filing,” giving him broad discretionary powers, not merely to provide a mandatory demolition permit;

Whereas,              Section 103-6 also gives the Preservation Board the authority to review the demolition request for a non-landmarked building in Subsection 103-6(h)(4), referencing that the applicant “should complete and submit the first part of the short Environmental Assessment Form,” which may lead to the requirement of a full EIS;

Whereas,              the word should in section 103-6(h)(4) does not reflect the intent of the ordinance by rendering this section of ordinance as merely voluntary, thus endangering a possible City historic asset or National and State designated landmark;

Whereas,              the legislative intent of the Charter grants the Preservation Board more than an advisory instruction to the Commissioner of Inspections in regards to the granting of a demolition permit to an applicant of a non-landmarked property, but mandates an appeal process through The Common Council: Now, Therefore Be It


Resolved that The City of Buffalo Common Council-


1)      Amends Sub section 103-6(h)(4) of the Preservation code to read “the applicant shall complete and submit part I of the Short Environmental Assessment Form,” thereby eliminating the word “should” from the subsection requirement; and


2)              Confirms its Charter authority to affirm, vacate, or override the Preservation Board’s denial of an applicants’ Certificate of Appropriateness as it applies to demolition of non-landmarked properties in The City of Buffalo.


Jun 5, 2018 2:00 PMVideo (Windows Media) MP4 VideoLegislation CommitteeCouncil Committee Meeting


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