Balancing Act

Balancing Act: Preventing Demolition By Neglect

by Rebecca Osborne, May 2005

In 1993, The National Alliance of Preservation Commissions conducted a survey of preservation commissions from across the country. The purpose of the survey was to identify common characteristics of local commissions and to determine their needs. Results showed that local commissions believe that preventing demolition by neglect was the most difficult situation with which they must deal. Only 25% of the commissions surveyed have some sort of authority to prevent demolition by neglect. Additionally, these commissions stated that dealing with claims of economic hardships were also difficult.

In this brief, issues of preventing demolition by neglect and dealing with claims of economic hardship will be considered. First, demolition by neglect laws will be defined on a broad level, and a general overview of procedures to prevent demolition by neglect will be given. Economic hardship will also be defined in legal terms, and its presentation within the scope of demolition by neglect cases will be demonstrated. Finally, the brief will present and analyze examples of demolition by neglect cases in North Carolina, Michigan, and California. Through illustration of these localized cases around the country, readers can better understand the complexities of dealing with demolition by neglect of historic structures.

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