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HOYT WANTS LAWS TO BACK HISTORIC PRESERVATION

Assemblyman Sam Hoyt wants Buffalo to protect its historic buildings and he wants the State Legislature to do its part.

Hoyt said Buffalo should follow the lead of other cities, including New York City and Albany, that have enacted ordinances requiring owners of historic properties to maintain them in "good repair" against deterioration, decay or damage.

"Buffalo has a wealth of significant architecture that other cities can only dream of," Hoyt said. "We need more teeth in our ability to hold property owners accountable when it comes to the maintenance of historic properties."

Hoyt said he also will soon introduce legislation in Albany to clarify existing state law regarding the protection of historic buildings. Owners allowing structures to deteriorate has been a frequent issue in Buffalo.

"This would make it crystal clear that the state supports the municipalities in their effort to protect historic buildings," Hoyt said.

On Dec. 20, the New York City Landmarks Preservation commission used the city ordinance to win a ruling in State Supreme Court. Judge Walter B. Tolub ordered the owner of the abandoned, 160-year-old Samuel Tredwell Skidmore House to "permanently repair and restore the exterior of the Skidmore House to a state of good health."

The preservation group charged the owner with practicing "demolition by neglect."

Hoyt is also calling for tougher penalties for owners who demolish buildings without proper permits. In 2003, the Common Council required demolition applications to be reviewed first by the city's Preservation Board.

"It's easier for some of these people to tear something down and pay a fine than deal with preservationists. If there was a $25,000 or $50,000 fine, they'd think twice before tearing down a building."

e-mail: msommer@buffnews.com

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