Helena HP Demolition Ordinance

Photo of 6th Ward House After Earthquake
6th Ward House After Earthquake


City of Helena Code: Title 3 - CHAPTER 15


3-15-1: INTENT:

A. General Intent:

1. Historic districts and historic buildings listed on the national register of historic places recognize national, state and local architectural, historical, social and cultural values. Helena's historic districts reflect the area's identity to the community, provide a "sense of place" for residents and visitors, and provide recognition for the area (including an attraction for heritage tourism); provide a defined area to promote economic incentives (such as federal tax credits, the local tax abatement program and grants for building rehabilitation); represent a financial investment for property owners and protect property values; and promote tourism, as a benefit to the local economy, by protecting the area's significant historical values.

2. Helena's historic districts and historic buildings include a wealth of architectural variety; contribute to greater knowledge, awareness and understanding of the area's cultural development over time; and encourage the integration of historic preservation into the private, local, state and federal decision making process.

3. This chapter is consistent with Montana law (76-2-301 and 76-2-304), the goals and policies of the Helena comprehensive plan and joint city-county resolution number 10099 which promote the public health, safety and general welfare of the community.

B. Intent For The Demolition Permit Review Process:

1. The purpose of the demolition permit review process is to protect and preserve the historical and archeological heritage of Helena, because the historic district designation is not permanent and the designation and related benefits can be lost forever if changes and alternatives are not carefully considered.

2. This section applies to those structures within the city that are individually listed on the national register of historic places, and also those properties located within the city's historic districts which are designated by the state historic preservation office (SHPO) as primary or contributing. (Ord. 2639, 11-16-1992)


For purposes of this chapter, the following definitions are applicable:

CONTRIBUTING: Any structure or property so designated by the SHPO that contributes to the overall fabric of the historic district.

DEMOLITION: Any act or process that destroys, in part or in whole, the historic integrity of a structure or site, including the exterior or facade of the structure, or otherwise alters the structure so that it no longer qualifies for primary or contributing status.

HISTORIC: Any structure herein defined as contributing or primary, or any structure individually listed on the national register of historic places.

HISTORIC DISTRICT: Any area so designated by SHPO.

NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES (NATIONAL REGISTER): A list maintained by the national park service of properties such as buildings, structures, sites, districts and objects that are important in history, prehistory, architectural history, engineering history, archeology or culture.

PRIMARY PROPERTY: Any structure or property so designated by the SHPO as eligible to be individually listed with the national register. (Ord. 2639, 11-16-1992)


No historic structure shall be demolished without obtaining a demolition permit from the director of building and safety. No demolition permit shall be issued unless such issuance conforms with all of the provisions of this chapter. (Ord. 2639, 11-16-1992)


Upon receipt of the completed application for a demolition permit, a determination shall be made if the property is individually listed on the national register or is designated as a contributing or primary property to the historic district. If the property is determined to be noncontributing to the historic district, a demolition permit may be issued. (Ord. 2639, 11-16-1992)


If the property is determined to be individually listed on the national register or is a contributing or primary property, the applicant shall meet with the historic preservation commission (HPC) and/or staff to present the proposal for demolition. The HPC and/or staff shall provide procedural information about the demolition permit requirements and discuss options for the property, such as: alternative designs, grants, tax credits, tax abatements, purchase, land exchanges and building relocation. (Ord. 2639, 11-16-1992)


For any property determined to be individually listed on the national register or a contributing or primary property, the application for a demolition permit shall include the following information:

A. Legal description, property address and age of the structure.

B. A written description and photographs that illustrate the structure.

C. A brief description of the proposal and the reason demolition is requested.

D. A brief description of the surrounding neighborhood and how the applicant proposes to protect the integrity of the historic district if demolition is proposed.

E. Cost estimates to restore or repair the structure and the name of the person or firm preparing the estimates. (Ord. 2639, 11-16-1992)


A. For a property determined to be individually listed on the national register or a contributing or primary property, the historic preservation commission (HPC) shall conduct a legally advertised public hearing.

B. At the public hearing the HPC shall review and evaluate the information provided for the application requirements, the architectural and/or historical significance of the structure, its relationship to the district and/or its relationship to a larger project, consider public testimony on the proposed demolition and any other relevant information. The HPC shall make a recommendation to the city commission for the approval or denial of the demolition application.

C. The city commission shall hold a public hearing to consider the application. The commission shall consider the information provided to the HPC, the HPC recommendation and any other relevant information. The commission shall then approve or deny the demolition application within sixty (60) days after a complete application has been submitted. (Ord. 2639, 11-16-1992)


A. If the city commission approves the issuance of the demolition permit, the city building department shall issue the permit immediately.

B. If the city commission denies the application, no further demolition permit application may be considered for the subject property for six (6) months from the date a completed application is submitted, unless the commission finds there are changed circumstances sufficient to warrant a new application. (Ord. 2639, 11-16-1992)