The Dr. Charles A. Atwood House as it looked in 2015.The Dr. Charles A. Atwood House as it looked in 1915.The Atwood house in July 2021 after the stop-word order was sent.The Atwood house in July 2021 after the stop-word order was sent.

UPDATED, Aug. 3: The owner of the Atwood House, long in disrepair, faces thousands of dollars in fines after, town officials allege, workers began demolishing the home at 821 Mass. Ave. without authorization.

"As the owner, you have demonstrated willful and reckless negligence since this special permit was granted in 2009," says the July 21 stop-work order sent to Geoffrey Noyes of Marblehead.

The demolition was the subject of a public hearing held Tuesday, Aug. 3, before the town Historical Commission. See the agenda >> 

Vacancy bylaw, 2009 permit cited

The order from Jennifer Raitt, planning director, and Michael Ciampa, interim director of inspectional services, addresses demolition work from June 28 to July 2 as well as longer-term issues related to the town's vacancy bylaw and a 2009 Redevelopment Board permit governing the property. The house, between CVS and First Baptist Church, was scheduled for rehabilitation rather than demolition when it was included as part of the site plan for the former Hodgdon-Noyes Buick dealership, where the pharmacy is.

The order to Noyes says that, "despite a scheduled hearing on Aug. 3 regarding a demolition permit on an historic building before the Arlington Historical commission (AHC), your contractors and agents conducted significant demolition of the Atwood House over an approximately weeklong period in advance of the July 4 holiday weekend without any permits or notices to the Town." As a result, Ciampa issued a stop-work about July 3, to contractor Groom Construction of Salem.

"Performing such work, particularly given your pending application for a demolition permit and scheduled hearing before the AHC, as well as this Department's efforts to work collaboratively with you on options for redevelopment is particularly egregious," the order says, citing these fines totaling S2,480.

The order adds that after registering the property on Jan. 29, 2020, under the vacant-storefront bylaw, Noyes has "remained noncompliant" and without immediate compliance, the town will pursue up to two years of the bylaw provision, totaling $73,000. Further, Noyes faces fines of an additional $100 a day "until the building conditions are corrected to the Town's satisfaction."

How to avoid fines

To avoid these fines, the order says, "conditions at the Atwood House property including securing the building, properly registering it on the vacant storefront Registry, must improve swiftly and dramatically. Secure building conditions shall encompass the following: removal of all boarded windows and installing new windows and siding which shall be reviewed and approved by the Arlington Historical Commission and installation of a 24-hour security and monitoring system."

In addition, the order says the town intends to reopen the environmental design review special permit (Docket #3348) for 833 Mass. Ave. because of continued noncompliance with special
condition No. 5. This 2009 Redevelopment Board decision required the property owner to abide by all permit conditions. The board requested follow-up on actions with regard to future redevelopment of the Atwood House.

The order says Noyes has not complied following a letter sent certified mail May 4, 2020, requiring him to apply for a demolition permit within 30 days following the board's vote, or by May 27, 2020, to apply for an environmental design review special permit following expiration of the demolition-delay period or earlier, contingent on Arlington Historical Commission rulings per town bylaw Article 6 Historically or Architecturally Significant Buildings. "lf you had not filed for a demolition permit, you were to apply for an environmental design review special permit with a renovation plan for the existing building within 60 days, or by June 27, 2020," it said.

The says that the Redevelopment Board reserves the right to revoke this special permit.

As recently as 2019, hope for rehab remained, as reported here >>  

Dec. 18, 2019: Decrepit Atwood House moves toward potential renovation

This news summary was published Monday, Aug. 2, 2021, and updated Aug. 3, to correct the date of the older photo.