Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Historical District Study Committtee discussion with Selectboard

SELECTBOARD’S MEETING
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2007
SELECTBOARD’S MEETING ROOM – 7:00 P.M.
MINUTES
Present: SB Members Marilyn G. Ishler; Carlene C. Hamlin; John R. Hine; Richard A. Constant; Gregory R.
Sheehan
The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m.
...
4. HISTORICAL DISTRICT STUDY COMMITTEE DISCUSSION WITH ROBERT JUDGE
Chair of the Historical Commission Robert Judge met with the Board to give an overview of the local historic district(s) they are working on in connection with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission through a grant received. They are requesting that a Local Historic District Study Committee be appointed by the Selectboard to begin work on conducting a survey of the area and prepare a report for local and state review.

Mr. Judge reviewed the guidelines involved and answered various questions from the Board. He explained that they are looking to create a Historic District in the Woodbridge Street area as well as throughout an area in the Falls section of Town. The solicitation for the study committee is to get a wide variety of expertise.

SB Member Constant questioned whether all homes within the district created would fall under the guidelines or only those homes historic in nature. Mr. Judge replied that newer homes would not fall within the guidelines. He indicated that the people within the district would be the deciding body as to how the district is governed. He stated that Town Meeting must first vote the establishment of the district.

SB Member Hamlin stated that this had been proposed previously but did not come into fruition. Mr. Judge replied that at that time it was decided that it was not the right time to pursue the proposal. Now the South Hadley Historical Commission believes they should establish one or two districts. SB Member Hamlin questioned why now and Mr. Judge replied that he believes there were many questions of restrictions that were unclear. He feels if someone within the district feels strongly about their concern, they should join the committee to give their input. He further stated that everyone within the district would have an equal vote on the guidelines set and he believes when this was proposed previously, this was not made clear.

SB Member Constant commented on the importance of historic preservation, but expressed concern that the criteria can become extremely onerous, therefore, leading to an opposite effect on what they plan, having residents not doing the work mandated by the guidelines. He feels they need to have folks serve on the committee that understand the consequences of what costs are involved in replication where needed and such.

Mr. Judge commented that he believes it did not go through the last time as there was question as to who received the mailing and who did not. They want to assure that this time the process is followed correctly.

SB Member Sheehan expressed concern that someone within the district could be outvoted and mandated to do something they do not agree with. Mr. Judge replied that it is possible that this could occur.

Following discussion, SB Member Hine moved to establish under the provisions of Massachusetts General Law Chapter 40C, a Local Historic District Study Committee consisting of seven members, which shall make an investigation and report on the historic significance of the buildings, structures, features, sites or surroundings included in such proposed local historic district or districts as the committee may recommend, and shall submit a final report with its recommendations after a public hearing, together with a map of the proposed district or districts and a draft of the proposed bylaw, to Town Meeting. The motion was seconded. In further discussion SB Member Hamlin questioned what would occur if seven volunteers did not come forward and Mr. Judge replied that the Board can designate the number of members. However,he does not feel there will be a problem with getting seven people to apply. As SB Member Hamlin felt hesitant, she asked for Mr. Del Castilho’s input and Mr. Del Castilho replied that his understanding is that the Massachusetts Historical Society makes such districts palatable to the residents. However, there is a
chance that someone within the district could be outvoted. Chair Ishler felt there is no problem with having a committee formed to study the matter and provide the Selectboard with more input. Following its discussion the Board voted four in favor of the motion and one opposed (SB Member Sheehan opposed.

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