In 1986 Salem was on the cutting edge when city leaders implemented a six-month demolition delay ordinance. This means that when applying for a demolition permit for a building older than 50 years and owner has to wait six-months before they can demolish the building. Or they can apply for a waiver of this delay period through the Salem Historical Commission who can determine (after weighing all the factors) if the building can be torn down sooner.
Theoretically this six-month time period can be used to examine preservation options for a historic building, or to develop actions that mitigate the loss of a historic building. However, in today's construction world six-months of waiting is not a sufficient incentive for an owner to work with the Salem Historical Commission on alternatives. Six months is about the same amount of time it takes to get all the other necessary approvals and so an owner can request a waiver of demolition delay and while they wait out the time clock they can visit the other boards in the city (Planning, Zoning etc) and proceed as planned.
As Salem's desirability continues to rise, we anticipate an increase in “tear-down” real estate, which we are already seeing in the Willows, North Salem, and other Salem neighborhoods.
Salem needs to increase the Demo Delay time period to 12 months (or even 18) and apply the requirement to partial demolition.
Strengthening the Demolition Delay Ordinance will bring clarity
Changes to the demolition delay ordinance will benefit everyone.
You can read our full list of recommendations for an updated Demolition Delay Ordinance here:
You can read the City's draft ordinance here (draft as it appears on the SHC website on 4/20/2021):
You can read our letter to the Salem Historical Commission, April 20, 2021 here:
You can read our letter to the City Council, April, 22, 2021 here:
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