Guidelines for Real Estate Agents
Weston's Historical Commission is providing this brief summary to Real Estate agents so they can help buyers of historic properties understand the role of the Commission when owners have renovation, addition or demolition plans. More detailed descriptions of the process can be found on the Historical Commission's main web page.
Role of the Weston Historical Commission
Our Mission: To Preserve & Protect - The Commission was created by Town Meeting vote in 1968 to serve as the town’s official body for administering the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. The Commission is the only Weston authority charged with town-wide preservation of our historic and architectural heritage.
Role of Real Estate Agents
As you describe Weston’s unique features to prospective buyers, you likely include its reputation for having excellent schools, lush forests, lots of open space, a quaint town center, easy access to Boston with nearby highways and the commuter rail, along with its abundance of historic homes and buildings that provide aesthetic beauty and represent our rich history. Research indicates that historic homes and buildings provide significant economic value to their communities.
Before they sell a historic home, real estate agents have the important responsibility to share with prospective buyers the Weston Historical Commission’s duties and role in the review and approval of owners’ plans for renovations, additions and demolition of historic properties.
In Weston all homes and buildings constructed before 1945 are considered historic, but not all are considered significant.
The Weston Cultural Resources Inventory is maintained by the Commission and includes properties located in our Local Historic District, National Register Districts, and Historic Areas, as well as individual properties of architectural or historical interest or that contribute to the character of scenic roads or neighborhoods. Each property file includes a brief written history, photographs and miscellaneous documents. The Commission adds new properties to the inventory when deemed appropriate.
Two Steps for Approval
1. Determining Significance
Owners of historic properties who wish to demolish all or any portion of their home, must submit an application for a building/demolition permit. This will trigger action by the Historical Commission. If the work is minor or in-kind, administrative approval may be granted and no hearing is required. In most instances, the application will be placed on the Commission’s agenda and will be discussed at the next scheduled meeting. This is called an "Initial Determination."
During the meeting, the Commission will discuss the historical significance of the property. In order for the property to be considered historically significant it has to:
- have been constructed prior to 1945; and
- be individually listed on the town’s Cultural Inventory.
If the property meets these criteria, the Commission will then review the home and determine whether or not the property is historically significant.
If it is determined that it is not significant, no further action is required by the Commission and the home owner may proceed through the regular construction approval process. If the home is determined to be historically significant then the Commission will review the work described in the application.
2. Approval of Plans
At the Initial Determination meeting, home owners may be provided the opportunity to discuss their proposal with the Commission. If the Commission determines that the changes to the property are minor and not detrimental, a vote may be taken to approve the application.
If there are major changes planned, Commissioners will vote to bring the application to a Public Hearing at which owners and abutters are given an opportunity to discuss the application. If the Commission votes that the changes are not detrimental to the property, then approval is granted. If the changes are deemed to be detrimental, the Commission may vote by majority to impose a 12-month delay on demolition.
This one-year delay is intended to provide the time it takes to reach a mutually agreeable solution between the Town and the homeowner. If such a solution is reached, the Commission can lift the delay before 12 months.
Real Estate Agent Advice to Buyers
To prepare your buyers for this process before they purchase, it is important that you notify them of the importance the Town places on its history and that of the properties that contribute to it.
Many significant homes are located in established, cohesive neighborhoods with mature landscapes. These are understandably appealing to a buyer and in most cases can be updated in a sensitive way that can create a unique, character-filled home for any family to enjoy. The Historical Commission is happy to work with anyone to help preserve the special character that Weston offers.
If the intent of your buyer is to demolish the significant home and replace it, we ask that perhaps you discourage them from choosing the significant property and steer them to another location in Weston.
Historical Commission Meetings/Hearings
The Commission meets every 3-4 weeks and all meetings are open to the public and posted to the Town's online meeting calendar. Historic property owners wishing to have their planned project approved by the Commission can submit an application for a hearing by contacting the Building Department at 781-786-5066.
We recommend real estate agents review the Commission's web pages for further information and we welcome all to contact us with any questions for further clarification.
Please also direct clients to the Commission's section of the website where they will find numerous resources regarding Weston's history, as well as historic home preservation resources. In particular, we suggest they review the section on "Why Preserve Wood Windows" where they will discover the benefit of restoring versus replacing antique windows.