Section 8. (a) Any city or town may provide in the ordinance or by-law establishing a district or in any amendment thereof that the authority of the commission shall not extend to the review of one or more of the following categories of buildings or structures or exterior architectural features in the historic district, and, in this event, the buildings or structures or exterior architectural features so excluded may be constructed or altered within the historic district without review by the commission:
(1) Temporary structures or signs, subject, however, to such conditions as to duration of use, location, lighting, removal and similar matters as the commission may reasonably specify.
(2) Terraces, walks, driveways, sidewalks and similar structures, or any one or more of them, provided that any such structure is substantially at grade level.
(3) Walls and fences, or either of them.
(4) Storm doors and windows, screens, window air conditioners, lighting fixtures, antennae and similar appurtenances, or any one or more of them.
(5) The color of paint.
(6) The color of materials used on roofs.
(7) Signs of not more than one square foot in area in connection with use of a residence for a customary home occupation or for professional purposes, provided only one such sign is displayed in connection with each residence and if illuminated is illuminated only indirectly; and one sign in connection with the nonresidential use of each building or structure which is not more than twelve square feet in area, consist of letters painted on wood without symbol or trademark and if illuminated is illuminated only indirectly; or either of them.
(8) The reconstruction, substantially similar in exterior design, of a building, structure or exterior architectural feature damaged or destroyed by fire, storm or other disaster, provided such reconstruction is begun within one year thereafter and carried forward with due diligence.
(b) A commission may determine from time to time after public hearing that certain categories of exterior architectural features, colors, structures or signs, including, without limitation, any of those enumerated under paragraph (a), if the provisions of the ordinance or by-law do not limit the authority of the commission with respect thereto, may be constructed or altered without review by the commission without causing substantial derogation from the intent and purposes of this chapter.
(c) A city or town may provide in its ordinance or by-law, or in any amendment thereof, that the authority of the commission shall be limited to exterior architectural features within a district which are subject to view from one or more designated public streets, public ways, public parks or public bodies of water, although other portions of buildings or structures within the district may be otherwise subject to public view, and, in the absence of such provision of the ordinance or by-law, a commission may determine from time to time after public hearing that the authority of the commission may be so limited without substantial derogation from the intent and purposes of this chapter.
(d) Upon request the commission shall issue a certificate of nonapplicability with respect to construction or alteration in any category then not subject to review by the commission in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (a), (b) or (c).