Eyeing historic boundaries

Carusone said he had not ruled out the possibility of a lawsuit on the grounds that his client's property rights are being violated should the city pass the moratorium.

"We would argue that the rights of the owner of the property had become vested, and those rights cannot be taken away," he said.

But Bosshart argued that all zoning laws are, in essence, a mechanism to enforce the greater good. They keep manufacturers from building factories in the middle of residential neighborhoods, for example.

"It provides for the safe and orderly development of property," said Bosshart. "It's really a decision for the elected officials. If they feel it is in their best interests to preserve buildings, then it may supersede property rights."

Collateral damage?

It is clear there is another historic building that would be immediately affected by the demolition moratorium, though. Joseph Boff purchased 66 Franklin St. in September and started the process of seeking a demolition permit last month.

Unlike 23 Greenfield Ave., Boff's property is within the city's historic district. Process demands that he seek approval from the Design Review Commission before applying for a demolition permit with the building department. The process is under way, and the DRC is expected to move on the application at its Wednesday, July 1, meeting.

According to Patrick Kane, chairman of the DRC, when seeking demolition approval, the burden of proof is on the applicant. It must be proved that restoring the building to its original condition is unreasonable " either for lack of materials or the cost involved " or that the structure is unsafe and poses a danger.

When considering historic structures, the commission must also think of the area as a whole, said Kane.

"We aren't just a board that looks at preservation, though that's certainly a component of it. Part of our charge is to the economic vitality of the community around it," he said.

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