Southampton Town has changed its code to require demolition permits before houses are torn down or altered. That includes older structures, which must now go before the Landmarks and Historic Districts Board for review and recommendation before they can be razed, a move intended to protect historically significant structures.
The legislation was adopted at the board's final meeting of 2011 on Dec. 22, which was the , the sponsor of the resolution.
Just because the Landmarks and Historic Districts Board may find that a house has historical value, it does not imply the owner will be prevented from tearing it down or renovating. But Graboski said in a written statement, "at the very least the property will have been documented and the owner will be informed about the historic value.”
"The town of Southampton has lost a number of historic structures that are so much a part of the heritage and character," Graboski said.
"By having a separate application for demolition, not unlike the villages of Southampton, Sag Harbor and Sagaponack as well as the town of Brookhaven, proper evaluation and review of structures over 75 years old, will take place before any demolition takes place," Graboski said.
A number of demolished or threatened structures were posted on the wall during the meeting as members of the Landmarks and Historic Districts Board took to the lectern to advocate the legislation.
, the former chairman of the Southampton Village Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review, said that while he favors protective measures, “a law without any teeth is a law that doesn’t have much bite.”
"The village of Southampton has lost a tremendous amount of historic building stock over the years,” he told the Town Board, but he noted that the village has tightened its demolition restrictions in recent years.
Aram Terchunian, the new president of the Southampton Business Alliance, told the board that while SBA "fully supports historic preservation," he is concerned that the newly created permit will burden homeowners that want to make even the smallest interior renovations. His request that the board table the resolution fell on deaf ears.
Another aspect of the legislation is that all demolition applications, regardless of the age of the structure, will need to be signed by every person whose name is on the property title and, if there is a mortgage, by the lender.
Graboski, Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and Councilwoman Bridget Fleming voted in favor of the demolition permit, while Councilman Jim Malone abstained and Councilman Chris Nuzzi was absent.
The board adopted another code change Dec. 22 affecting homeowners, .