Friday, April 14, 2006
Historical survey proposal invites questions
At the Community Preservation Committee meeting on April 6, member Larry Sorli proposed a transfer of $40,000 from the CPC Historical Reserve Fund to pay for an inventory of historical properties in Carlisle. The Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC) encourages communities to research the backgrounds of their historic properties and report results to a central database. The information then is available for planning and protection.
Sorli noted that the form provided takes "several hours" to fill out. MHC will conduct the survey for $180 per property. With 230 sites to be surveyed in Carlisle, the cost for MHC would be $42,840. A consultant will charge $40,000. An attempt to do this work using volunteer labor was a failure as many forms were filled out based on "folklore" rather than primary sources.
Tim Hult questioned if the information collected could be used to restrict what a homeowner does with his property. Sorli was confident there would be no restrictions unless the town adds to bylaws. However, CPC chair Caren Ponty noted that, as a real estate consultant, she has found that when working on an historical property, "They won't say 'no' but it adds more paperwork." In addition, "architectural detail" or other work may be requested.
"What I don't want in any form is a study that has an impact on anyone's property," said Hult. He wondered, for example, if the survey would provide ammunition to a neighbor who wanted to stop a renovation. Said Ponty, "It won't stop you, but it will slow you down." But Sorli disagreed, "There's nothing threatening about the survey. It's a planning document." He added, "It's all about planning, not control."
Hult agreed that "we need a baseline of knowledge" for planning, but suggested better cost justification that "the survey allows us to do 'x.'" He also cautioned, "There's some limit to the town's tolerance for the next $50,000 study, and we're approaching it." Hult added that the town needs reassurance that the results could not be used to stall progress on resolving the situation with the Highland Building.
The CPC voted unanimously to bring the proposal to Town Meeting.
© 2006 The