Lowell Historic Board Enforcement Process
Unfortunately, work will sometimes be undertaken in a district without prior review and approval of the Board. It is important to note that consulting the staff is the best way to determine whether the work you are contemplating must be reviewed by the Board.
The Board requires two things of tenants and property owners in its review districts. First, an Historic Permit must be obtained from the Board before starting work. Second, properties must be kept in good repair. Violations occur when work is done without an Historic Permit and/or is nonconforming under a district's design review standards, when work does not comply with a permit/conditions of approval, or when properties are not properly maintained.
Both the property owner and tenant are responsible for a violation. If the tenant is the offending party, the Board may seek, where possible, to bring the action against that individual. As with most laws, however, ultimately the property owner is responsible for ensuring that his/her property complies with Board regulations, as well as with all building, health, zoning, and fire codes.
If unapproved work is found to be in progress or completed, or a property is in disrepair, the Board’s violation process is triggered. Historic Board staff routinely survey the districts and notify people through a Request for Compliance that a potential violation exists and that resolution is needed. If noncompliance with a district's design standards and approval process exists, the person responsible will be required to take action to resolve the situation – which might mean doing something as simple as removing a sign or addressing maintenance needs such as painting. In addition, if work completed or underway is inconsistent with a district's design standards and approval process, the tenant/property owner may be required to undo the change and to repair any damage at their own expense.
If compliance is quickly achieved, the Board will not vote to issue formal violation notices. However, if compliance is not achieved in a timely manner, the Board will initiate a several step violation process found here
. Ultimately, violations within the districts may be subject to fines of up to $100 per day per violation with each day constituting a separate offense.
If you believe work has been undertaken in violation of the Board’s regulations or wish to report a possible violation, please feel free to contact the Board staff who will investigate the concern.