Historic Building Demolition

The City of New Smyrna Beach contains many important historical buildings. The City Commission adopted the Historic Building Demolition Ordinance for the purpose of preserving and protecting significant buildings within the City, which constitute or reflect distinctive features of the architectural, cultural, political, economic, or social history of the City and to encourage owners of such buildings to seek out persons who might be willing to purchase, preserve, rehabilitate, relocate, or restore such buildings rather than demolish them.

The regulated buildings are all contributing structures within the following National Register of Historic Places Historic Districts (§50-12[e], Code of Ordinances):
No person may undertake the following actions to a regulated building without first obtaining a demolition approval from the Historic New Smyrna Beach Preservation Commission (HPC) (§50-12[d], Code of Ordinances):
  • Pull down, destroy, remove, or raze a building
  • Commence the work of total or substantial destruction of a building
  • Remove portions of a building that destroys the original character of the building
Application & Fee
Each application for a demolition approval shall be accompanied by the required fee and the following information (§50-12[g], Code of Ordinances):
  • Evidence of Undue Economic Hardship; or
  • Evidence of Building Condition
    • The building is not historically significant; or
    • The building is historically significant and no other feasible alternative to demolition can be found
The City Commission shall establish, by resolution, a schedule of administration fees for a demolition approval. The applicant shall pay the required fees at the time the application is submitted. Administration fees shall be set and adjusted periodically by the City Commission. View the Complete List of Development Services Fees.

Notice of a public hearing to consider any proposal to demolish a regulated building as shall be made in a New Smyrna Beach newspaper of general circulation in the City at least 30 days prior to the hearing (§50-12[f], Code of Ordinances).

The owner, owners, or authorized representative of the owner or owners of the building proposed for demolition must notify all property owners within 150 feet of the subject property of the proposed public hearing. The notice shall be sent by United States Postal Service certified mail "return receipt requested" to each property owner no less than 15 days prior to the advertised public hearing and shall indicate the property address of the building proposed for demolition and location, date and time of the public hearing. The City Manager shall determine when an application is complete and may request additional information when such application is determined to be incomplete(§50-12[f], Code of Ordinances).

Review Process
The HPC shall review any application for demolition of a regulated building at the next public hearing with notice given to determine whether the building is historically significant and consider the following information submitted by the applicant (§50-12[g], Code of Ordinances):
  • Evidence of Undue Economic Hardship; or
  • Evidence of Building Condition and Lack of Alternative to Demolition
General Criteria
The building shall be considered historically significant if one (1) or more of the following criteria are declared to be met by the HPC (§50-12[g], Code of Ordinances):
  1. The building is historically or architecturally significant in terms of its period, style, method of building construction or use of indigenous materials;
  2. The building is a significant reminder of the cultural, or architectural history of the city, state or nation;
  3. The building is associated with a significant local, state or national event; or The building is associated with one or more significant historic persons or events, or with the broad architectural, cultural, political, economic, or social history of the city, state or nation;
  4. The building is one of a the few remaining examples of its period, style, or method of construction;
  5. The building is identified with a person who significantly contributed to the development of the city, state or nation;
  6. The building is identified as the work of a master builder, designer or architect whose individual work has influenced the development of the city, state or nation;
  7. The building value is recognized for the quality of its architecture, and it retains sufficient elements showing its architectural significance;
  8. The building character is in a geographically definable area possessing a significant concentration or continuity of buildings united in past events or aesthetically by plan or physical development; or
  9. The building character is in an established and geographically definable neighborhood united in culture, architectural style or physical plan and development.
If the HPC finds that the building is historically significant, then the HPC may, nevertheless, grant a demolition approval if it finds that one (1) of the following circumstances is met (§50-12[h], Code of Ordinances):

Undue Economic Hardship
In any instance where there is a claim of undue economic hardship, the property owner shall submit to the HPC prior to the public hearing a report indicating the economic hardship and why the demolition should be allowed. The report shall include the following:
  1. The amount paid for the property, the date of purchase and the party from whom purchased;
  2. The assessed value of the land and improvements thereon, according to the two most recent assessments;
  3. Real estate taxes for the previous two years;
  4. Annual debt service, or mortgage payments, if any, for the previous two years;
  5. All appraisals (if any) obtained within the previous two years by the owner(s) or applicant(s) in connection with the purchase, financing or ownership of the property;
  6. Any listing of the property for sale or rent, price asked and offers received, if any; and
  7. Any consideration by the owner as to profitable adaptive uses for the property, including but not limited to possible fair market rents for the property if it were rented or leased in its current condition.
The HPC may require that an applicant furnish such additional information as the HPC believes is relevant to the HPC's determination of any alleged undue economic hardship. The HPC may also require, in appropriate circumstances, that information be furnished under oath.

In the event that any of the required information is not reasonable available to the property owner and cannot be obtained by the property owner, the property owner shall file with his/her/their affidavit a statement of the information which cannot be obtained and the reasons why such information cannot be reasonable obtained. Where such unobtainable information concerns required financial information, the property owner will submit a statement describing estimates which be as accurate as feasible.

Building Condition
In any instance where there is a claim the building is not structurally sound and/or suitable for restoration, the applicant shall provide a written report signed by a licensed engineer or architect with experience in historic building restoration stating that the building is structurally unsound and unsuitable for restoration. The HPC shall review the credentials of the licensed engineer or architect signing the report and shall find them experienced in historic restorations before the report is accepted. The applicant shall allow members of the HPC and City staff to inspect the interior and exterior of the building.

In any instance where there is a claim of no other alternative to demolition, the applicant shall provide written documentation of attempts to sell the building at a reasonable and comparable amount or to offer it without charge to purchasers willing to move the building to another location and preserve, rehabilitate, relocate, or restore the building. A reasonable and comparable sales price shall be indicated by providing evidence such as recent appraisals, comparable values of properties similar to the building proposed to be demolished or other evidence the HPC deems acceptable.

Conditions of Demolition Approval
If the HPC grants demolition approval for a regulated building, then the HPC shall condition approval on one (1) or more of the following requirements (§50-12[i], Code of Ordinances):
  1. The HPC shall require the applicant to provide a written and pictorial record of the building's history and architectural features for archival purposes, approved by the City. The record should include a narrative accompanied by relevant photographs, drawings, maps, and copies of original documents;
  2. The HPC shall require the applicant to design the replacement building(s) to meet the requirements of the Historic Preservation Design Guidelines for New Smyrna Beach and submit drawings of the proposed work, photographs of existing buildings or structures on adjacent properties and information about the building materials to be used for commission approval;
  3. The HPC may require that the owner allow archaeological study of the property before and/or during demolition if the property falls within the area demonstrated to have a medium or high probability to contain archaeological resources;
  4. The HPC may require that the owner allow salvage activities of the historic building provided the commission finds that there are salvageable materials within the building. City staff shall provide evidence to demonstrate that salvageable materials are within or on the building to be demolished; or
  5. The HPC may require that the owner of a historically significant building meet any other condition that is reasonable to mitigate the demolition of the historic building.
Demolition Delay
Should the HPC determine that a building is historically significant and does not meet at least one (1) of the circumstances allowing demolition of a historically significant structure, then the HPC shall provide for a demolition delay effective date of up to 120 days from the date of the application (§50-12[j], Code of Ordinances). The purpose for the delay is for the City staff to invite the owner or owners of record of the building to participate in an investigation of alternatives to demolition including, but not limited to the following:
  • Incorporation of the building into the future development of the site;
  • Adaptive reuse of the building;
  • Utilization of financial incentives to rehabilitate the building;
  • Seeking a new owner willing to purchase and preserve, restore or rehabilitate the building; or
  • Moving the building
The City will provide the applicant resource assistance including but not limited to potential grant sources, tax relief measures, possible lenders, and available insurers. Once the delay period has ended and if the owner or owners is/are still seeking demolition of the historically significant structure, the owner or owners shall appear before the HPC at a meeting adhering to the notice requirements and present a case as to why the demolition should be granted. The HPC shall again consider the reasons for demolition of a historically significant building as indicated. The HPC shall approve the demolition provided the Conditions of Demolition Approval are in compliance.

Demolition by Neglect
The owner or owners of a contributing or significant building shall comply with all applicable codes, laws, and regulations governing the maintenance of property, preserve the exterior features and the interior portions from deliberate or inadvertent neglect, and prevent deterioration and decay of the exterior. All such buildings or structures shall be preserved against such decay and deterioration and free from structural defects through prompt corrections of any of the following defects (§50-12[k], Code of Ordinances):
  1. Facades that may fall and injure persons or property;
  2. Deteriorated or inadequate foundation, defective or deteriorated flooring or floor supports, deteriorated walls or other vertical structural supports;
  3. Members of ceilings, roofs, ceiling and roof supports or other horizontal members that sag, split or buckle due to defective material or deterioration;
  4. Deteriorated or ineffective waterproofing of exterior walls, roof, foundations or floors, including broken windows or doors;
  5. Defective or insufficient weather protection for exterior wall covering, including lack of paint or weathering due to lack of paint or other protective covering; or
  6. Any fault or defect in the building that renders it not properly watertight or structurally unsafe.
The HPC, building official, and code enforcement officer are each authorized to institute any and all proceedings in law or equity, as they deem necessary and appropriate to obtain compliance with the requirements of this section, or to prevent a violation thereof. No building permit shall be issued with respect to any premises upon which a significant building has been voluntarily demolished in violation of this section for a period of 22 months after the date of the completion of such demolition. As used herein "premises" includes the parcel of land upon which the demolished significant building was located and all abutting parcels of land under common ownership or control on or subsequent to the date this section was approved. Upon a determination of the HPC that a building is a preferably preserved significant building, the owner shall be responsible for properly securing the building, if vacant, to the satisfaction of the building official and/or code enforcement officer. Anyone who demolishes a regulated building without first obtaining, and complying fully with the provisions of, a demolition permit shall be subject to a fine of up to $5,000.00 (§50-12[l], Code of Ordinances).

Appeals to the City Commission
Within 15 days of the HPC decision, any affected person may appeal to the City Commission any decision of the HPC on an application for a demolition approval. The City Commission shall approve, approve with conditions, or disapprove the application within 60 days after receiving the appeal. The City Commission shall only approve the demolition of a regulated building if they determine that the request complies with the General Criteria (§50-12[m], Code of Ordinances).