Chapter 40 § 8d identifies five responsibilities for all commissions established under the chapter. They are:
1. Conducting research on places of historical or architectural value;
2. Cooperating with the State Archaeologist in conducting surveys and reporting on sites;
3. Coordinating with other preservation organizations;
4. Keeping accurate records of its actions and filing an annual report; and
5. Maintaining a membership of not less than three, nor more than seven members, duly appointed by the appropriate municipal officer.
Beyond these five responsibilities, the commissions are free to undertake any number of activities for the purpose of preserving, protecting, and developing the historic an archaeological assets of the community. They may:
1. Prepare and distribute publications:
2. Make recommendations to the Board of Selectmen and Massachusetts Historical Commission;
3. Hold hearings;
4. Enter into contracts and other agreements;
5. Accept gifts to further its work;
6. Hire staff; and
7. Acquire property in the town's name.
Source: Preservation Planning Manual, Local Historical Commissions, Published by the Massachusetts Historical Commission, a Division of the Office of the Secretary of State
Local Historical Commissions
Established by a vote of the town or city government, a Local Historical Commission* (LHC) is the municipal agency responsible for ensuring that preservation concerns are considered in community planning and development decisions. Over 340 LHCs across Massachusetts are already established and working closely with the MHC. They serve as local preservation advocates and as an important resource for information about their community's cultural resources and preservation activities.
*(MGL Ch. 40 Section 8d)
Local Historic Districts
A Local Historic District* (LHD) is established and administered by a community to protect the distinctive characteristics of important areas, and to encourage new structural designs that are compatible with the area's historic setting. A District Study Committee is appointed to conduct a survey of the area and to prepare a preliminary report for local and state review. A final report is then submitted to the local governing body for approval of the local historic district ordinance or by-law. Once a LHD is established, a Local Historic District Commission (LHDC) is appointed to review all applications for exterior changes to properties within the district. This design review process assures that changes to properties will not detract from the district's historic character. Review criteria are determined by each city and town and vary
for each local district.
*(MGL Ch. 40C)