Historic District Commission
Tuesday, November 2, 2021
The Historic District Commission held a regularly scheduled meeting and a public hearing on proposed new Historic District Regulations on Tuesday, November 2, 2021 at the Granite Mill, 69 Main Street.
HDC members: Doug Walker, Chair; Noel Greiner, Vice Chair; Anne Howe; Rex Baker; Scott Oliver, and Kathy Scott, Select Board Representative
Members of the public: John Richardson, Jack Calhoun, Beth Healy, Tom Hamon, Kathy Hamon, Katie Hamon, Katrina Farmer, Erin Hammerstedt, Nick Colony, Leslie Voiers, Les LaMois, Pat Colony, Chick Colony, Bryan Kingsbury, Don Scott, Andrea Polizos, Akhil Garland, Lee Garland
Chairman Doug Walker opened the meeting at 7:00 pm.
Mr. Walker noted that the voting members for the evening were himself, Kathy Scott, Rex Baker, Scott Oliver and Noel Greiner.
Agenda and Meeting Minutes of 9/28/2021
Members voted unanimously in favor to approve the agenda and the minutes of the September 28th meeting.
Draft HDC Regulations for Public Hearing
Chairman Walker reviewed for attendees the background and process leading up to the draft document before them, a product of a subcommittee of the HDC. The updated regulations are adapted from regulations in place in other historic districts, including Keene and Amherst, NH, and include new as well as updated content. New sections include Definitions, provisions related to renewable energy systems, and a section on fences and guardrails.
Following a motion and a second, the Chair opened the public hearing to questions and comment from historic district property owners. It was requested and agreed that review occur section by section.
Article I – Authority and Purpose
No questions at this point on this section.
Article II – General Criteria
Attendees and the board discussed whether and how criteria would be weighted or ranked; the role of the HDC regarding lighting facing the street/public view; and the issue of light pollution, both from the street and from water views. The HDC offered to review how it defines light pollution with the hope of clarifying this for applicants and property owners.
Extensive discussion occurred on paragraphs G., H. and I., The Public View, Exemptions and Waivers respectively. On waivers, Erin Hammerstedt raised concern that any waiver from the regulations would be allowed. HDC members clarified that this was not a waiver from the process itself, or a way to circumvent the regulations, but allowed the board some flexibility on certain criteria, owing to individual circumstances of applications and homeowners. Regarding exemptions, the HDC will consider inserting the word “permanent” prior to “removal.”
As discussion ensued, attendees requested that the HDC not rush the adoption of the new regulations, but allow adequate time for input.
When questions arose about the application process and circumstances when property owners may not know if they need approval for work, the board emphasized the ability to request a conceptual consultation at a regular meeting for guidance, since individual HDC members may be able to offer their own thoughts outside of a public meeting, they can’t make a decision for the whole board.
Article III – Preservation Standards
Mr. Walker explained that the language in this section is drawn from the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, which the board has relied on since 1969. As these Standards are updated periodically, attendees asked if any certain version should be cited or if language should be added referring to the fact the Standards are modified from time to time so that the HDC is not beholden to a given edition. Ms. Hammerstedt suggested clarifying in this section that all the criteria must be satisfied or deemed not relevant. HDC members agreed that, as part of the review process, all standards are applied, though all are not always applicable. Some debate occurred about differentiating between standards and guidelines, and the suggestion was made to offer applicants some indication of how tightly the standards would be followed.
Separately, Katie Hamon suggested the HDC check the website links included throughout the Regulations to ensure their accuracy and validity.
Article IV – Minimum Maintenance
All agreed that this section raises a difficult topic. Board members noted that the goal here is to raise awareness of the importance of at least minimum upkeep to preserve the character and value of individual properties as well as the whole district. Mr. Walker discussed the ongoing Inventory Project, including updated photographs and historical information for each property in the district, with a longer term goal of creating a brochure for new and existing homeowners that emphasizes stewardship. Bryan kingsbury suggested adding a comment about stewardship to this section.
Article V – Relocation and Demolition
The commission will consider the suggestion to replace “except for good cause shown” with “unless preservation in place is not feasible.”
Other suggestions included the hiring of an intern to continue with data and property information recording.
Akhil Garland reiterated his request that a lengthier discussion on exterior lighting, particularly on color temperature, take place within the relevant town boards. Erin Hammerstedt added the request to add streetlights and the color temperature of exterior lighting to the Streetscape Section of the HDC Regulations, which is Article VIII.
With many of the Regulations remaining to be reviewed, at 9:00 pm the HDC moved to continue the Public Hearing to its next regularly scheduled meeting, Tuesday, November 23, at 7:00 pm at Town Offices, 705 Chesham Road. At that time, if feasible, the subcommittee will assemble the proposed edits and incorporate them into a new draft. All voted in favor.