Common Council extends time to challenge preservation-related demolitions
For years, many of Buffalo’s iconic buildings have been demolished, some for major new structures and some for parking lots. Now the Common Council has changed the rules for those demolitions.With major city developments in recent years, there have been some real battles between developers and preservationists over projects. That’s particularly true in the Elmwood Village, where preservationists have battled to save buildings and struggled with restrictive time limits on blocking demolitions.
Council Majority Leader David Rivera said a battle over a home on West Utica demolished for the Elmwood Crossing project led to the new rules.
"They had, I believe, filed an application, but the city went ahead with a permit to demolish the property before the Common Council had a chance to vet it and to make a determination whether or not it was landmark-worthy. We thought it was wrong," Rivera said.
Currently, the entire review process can take only 30 days -- tight in the City Hall structure. The bill sent to Mayor Byron Brown Tuesday would change that to up to 120 days. He has 10 days to make a decision.
"It pauses the demolition," Rivera said. "They have 60 days from the time they put in a demolition application and then the Common Council has an opportunity to vet it and we also have approximately 60 days to continue to vet it before we make a determination."
Councilmember Mitch Nowakowski was a strong advocate of the change.
"Beautiful buildings and homes that we have and some of them are worthy for preservation. So this ordinance amendment now distinctly corrects a flaw within the Preservation Code when the Common Council is considering landmark applications, precisely placing a moratorium on demolition permits when the landmark application is under active consideration by the Common Council," he said.