Section 3. A city or town may, by ordinance or by-law adopted by two-thirds vote of the city council in a city or by a two-thirds vote of a town meeting in a town, establish historic districts subject to the following provisions:— Prior to the establishment of any historic district in a city or town an investigation and report on the historical and architectural significance of the buildings, structures or sites to be included in the proposed historic district or districts shall be made by an historic district study committee or by an historic district commission, as provided in this section and in section four, who shall transmit copies of the report to the planning board, if any, of the city or town, and to the Massachusetts historical commission for their respective consideration and recommendations. The buildings, structures or sites to be included in the proposed historic district may consist of one or more parcels or lots of land, or one or more buildings or structures on one or more parcels or lots of land. The Massachusetts historical commission may consult with the director of economic development, the director of housing and community development and the commissioner of environmental management with respect to such reports, and may make guidelines for such reports, and, after public hearing, establish rules as to their form and manner of transmission. Not less than sixty days after such transmittal the study committee shall hold a public hearing on the report after due notice given at least fourteen days prior to the date thereof, which shall include a written notice mailed postage prepaid, to the owners as they appear on the most recent real estate tax list of the board of assessors of all properties to be included in such district or districts. The committee shall submit a final report with its recommendations, a map of the proposed district or districts and a draft of a proposed ordinance or by-law, to the city council or town meeting.
An historic district may be enlarged or reduced or an additional historic district in a city or town created in the manner provided for creation of the initial district, except that (a) in the case of the enlargement or reduction of an existing historic district the investigation, report and hearing shall be by the historic district commission having jurisdiction over such historic district instead of by a study committee; (b) in the case of creation of an additional historic district the investigation, report and hearing shall be by the historic district commission of the city or town, or by the historic district commissions acting jointly if there be more than one, instead of by a study committee unless the commission or commissions recommend otherwise; and (c) if the district is to be reduced written notice as above provided of the commission’s hearing on the proposal shall be given to said owners of each property in the district.
Any ordinance or by-law creating an historic district may, from time to time, be amended in any manner not inconsistent with the provisions of this chapter by a two-thirds vote of the city council in a city or by a two-thirds vote of a town meeting in a town, provided that the substance of such amendment has first been submitted to the historic district commission having jurisdiction over such district for its recommendation and its recommendation has been received or sixty days have elapsed without such recommendation.
No ordinance or by-law creating an historic district, or changing the boundaries of an historic district, shall become effective until a map or maps setting forth the boundaries of the historic district, or the change in the boundaries thereof, has been filed with the city clerk or town clerk and has been recorded in the registry of deeds for the county or district in which the city or town is located, and the provisions of section thirteen A of chapter thirty-six shall not apply.