Historical Commission discusses regulations for work in Historic District

Do you have property in the Historic District? The Historic District and Historical Commission were created to preserve and protect the distinctive characteristics and architecture of buildings and places that are significant in the history of Carlisle.

Chair Annette Lee said, “We need people to come see us before doing something to the building exterior or on the property that is visible [from a traveled way].” The commission encourages informal discussions with property owners before they submit a formal application. Commission member Kathy Keller added, “There are a lot of new people in the center and they need to know what the process is.” The town website www.carlislema.gov has links to the Historical Commission, location of the Historic District and to Frequently Asked Questions.

Proposed revisions to Rules and Regulations

The commission has a set of Rules and Regulations that provide guidance for applicants who come before the commission. On a case by case basis the Commission can waive items within the Rules and Regs. This is in contrast with Town Bylaws or Zoning Bylaws that cannot be waived.

Some application fee adjustments are being considered. Administrative assistant Gretchen Caywood said, “Some haven’t changed in the 13 years that I have been here.” Caywood’s other recommendations were accepted on a vote of four to one. Summaries of the changes are:

• Section 3. 2 – Applicant will pay the cost of the Hearing advertisement but commission staff will prepare the ad and submit it for publication. Only one ad publication will be required as per MGL Ch 40C.

• Section 3. 3 – Commission staff will obtain the abutters list and will mail the Hearing notice to abutters. (Notice will be sent by First Class mail but, at the discretion of the Commission, Registered Mail may be used for anticipated important of controversial topics.)

Commissioner Ed Rolfe objected to relieving the applicant from responsibility of obtaining the abutters list and mailing the notices. He cast the single “No” vote. He preferred the Planning Board’s approach of having the applicant bear that responsibility via Registered Mail and providing the board or commission with the Post Office green signature cards that verify receipt of the notice by abutters. Other commissioners felt that such a requirement would be onerous for applicants who come before them. Keller said, “We want to encourage people to come to us. I prefer we do it in-house.” Member Jack O’Connor cut the discussion when he said, “It is Rules and Regs, we can change them if there is a problem.” 

Public Hearing for signs at 7A School Street continued

Having attended the August 22 meeting with paper mock-ups of the two signs she has proposed for the Michaud Insurance Agency at 7A School Street, Kate Lawler had material samples and photographs at the Historical Commission meeting on September 19. Her contractor Wayne Aruda explained their preference for a composite material rather than wood.

After discussion of various options and configurations there was agreement that the ground-mounted sign should be rectangular, matte white, approximately 30 to 32 inches wide and mounted on two white posts at approximately eye-level. There will be a smaller sign on the building indicating the business entrance, to the right of the door. Lawler said, “We’ve had people get lost even with GPS and some have even walked into the residence next door.”

During the discussion commissioner Geoff Freeman said, “We are the stewards of the Historic District. This is a big thing for us to install signs in the Town Center. As an architect I’m personally interested in smaller scale. I’m not thinking about how far away I can see it.” Lee interrupted, “And yet we want to support local business.” To that end member Ed Rolfe suggested that Lawler keep the current signs up until there is a final commission determination.

The Hearing will be continued on October 16.

Possible Historical Society program

Phil Drew came before the Historical Commission to discuss a program that the Carlisle Historical Society is considering sponsoring. The Historical Society is a non-profit organization that runs the Heald House museum on Concord Street. Drew said, “The society has sponsored several programs in the past such as stone knapping or cider press operation. The public was involved.” Knapping is shaping flint or chert by chipping flakes off to form stone tools. Under consideration is a presentation and demonstration by Tom Griffin, a member of the Vermont Old Cemetery Association (www.voca58.org) on restoration of an old gravestone. Drew said, “He would show the process and what a restored gravestone looks like. I look at this as an educational event.”

“That would be exciting to me; a demonstration would be good,” was the response of Historical Commission Chair Annette Lee. Member Geoff Freeman added, “There was a lot of misunderstanding when we recommended restoration [in the Old Burying Ground in the town center]. To have someone come in without an agenda and have it well documented by the Mosquito would be good.”

The Commission asked Drew to keep them advised of the schedule for the event if plans move forward.


On a unanimous vote Annette Lee and Kathy Keller were elected as co-chairs and Keller was designated as representative to the Community Preservation Committee. ∆