To The Daily Sun,
Two petition warrant articles have been placed on the Gilmanton ballot that would remove properties that are inside and part of the Meetinghouse Historic District. It is important to consider the unintended consequences of these petitions.
The "district" will become a list of properties not tied with a common border. In the future, will anyone who doesn't like an Historic District regulation petition for removal from the district? Will efforts to protect the historic buildings in the districts from incompatible development cease?
The voters of Gilmanton established two Historic Districts in order to preserve and safeguard the historic nature of Meetinghouse and the Corners areas. A Historic District Commission was formed with the authority to see that ordinances and regulations approved by the voters were enforced. Over the years, the commission, with town approval, has refined these. The regulations reflect what would have been appropriate during the designated time period of the districts, 1790-1840.
There are some non-period buildings in the districts. When an application for a non-period building is presented to the HDC, the goal is to see if the project can be done and remain in compliance with the regulations. Changes can be made to non-period buildings so that the change is not in conflict with the regulations.
Decisions of the HDC are made on a case-by-case basis reflecting the ability of the project to comply. Past owners and the HDC have found solutions that comply with the regulations.
The persons that are petitioning to have their properties removed from the Historic District bought them with full knowledge that their properties were in restricted neighborhoods bound by regulations passed by the voters of the town. This is not unlike buying a condo or settling into a 55-and-over community. Both petitioners have met multiple times with the Historic District Commission in an effort to accomplish their goals within the confines of the regulations. Despite accommodations offered by the HDC, both petitioners chose not to comply.
There is an expectation that the rules will be followed for the benefit of all members of the community. Voters of Gilmanton decided to protect its historic assets and expect that the governing body of the town would enforce the regulations that have been set forth.
These petitions have the potential to undermine the purpose of the HDC. The HDC believes these warrant articles are not in the best interests of Gilmanton. We do not recommend these petitions. The Planning Board has voted "not to recommend" these petitioned articles.
We ask the voters of Gilmanton to vote "No" on Warrant Articles 5 and 6.
Deborah Chase, Ernest R. Hudziec, Allen Everett, Matt Grasberger
Gilmanton Historic District Commission
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