The Captain Reuben Merrill House, one of Yarmouth’s historic buildings. Staff file photo by Gordon Chibroski

YARMOUTH — The Town Council will hold a workshop on July 10 to discuss an ordinance that would delay demolition of historic buildings.

In April, while discussing a Character-Based Development Code, the council added a demolition delay to Chapter 701 of the town zoning contract. It prohibits demolition of a building or structure that is 75 years or older and is partially or wholly situated in the town’s Demolition Delay Overlay Zone until the Planning Board determines its historic significance.

The provision imposes a 60- to 120-day period during which alternatives to demolition – such as restoration, relocation or rehabilitation – must be explored if the building is “of value.”

However, after that time period, the property owner would have the right to go forward with demolition if no better solution has been found.

The council had asked the Planning Board to look into and propose a stronger ordinance that would enable the town to prohibit demolition of historic places, deemed historically significant based on criteria such as age and architectural quality.

The Planning Board has recommended options for determining which buildings in town would be protected from demolition indefinitely, including those listed on the National Register of Historic Places, those determined by the Maine Historic Preservation Commission as eligible for listing, or those built before 1925.

The Planning Board selected the year 1925 in its proposal because that year marked the closing of the Forest Paper Co., signaling the end of a period of relative prosperity and a prolonged period of depression and wartime, until the next building boom in the post-war era.

Jocelyn Van Saun can be contacted at 781-3661, ext. 183, or at:

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