Local Historic District Study Committee
- Larry Lawfer, Chair
June 30, 2024
- Ryan McClain, Member
June 30, 2024
- William Mullen, Member
June 30, 2024
- Mallory Walsh, Member
June 30, 2024
- Andrew Hoffmann, Member June 30, 2024
- Douglas Scibeck, Member
August 31, 2023
Agendas & Minutes
Agendas are available prior to meetings. Minutes are available following approval.
By vote of the Select Board a Local Historic District Study Committee will be established under the provisions of Massachusetts General Law Chapter 40C. The charge of the committee is to investigate the desirability of establishing a historic district or districts within the town. The study committee shall consist of five members appointed by the Select Board, including one member from two nominees submitted by Historical Commission or, one member from two nominees submitted by the chapter of the American Institute of Architects covering the area, and one member from two nominees of the board of realtors covering the area.
The Local Historic District Study Committee will present a Preliminary Study Report, host a Public Hearing, present a Final Study Report, present to Town Meeting for a final vote, receive approval from the Attorney General's Office.
Benefits of Local Historic Districts Local historic districts have three major purposes as stated in Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 40C:
- To preserve and protect the distinctive characteristics of buildings and places significant in the history of the Commonwealth and its cities and towns
- To maintain and improve the settings of those buildings and places
- To encourage new designs compatible with existing buildings in the district
Historic districts do not prevent all changes from occurring, nor do they prevent all demolition, new construction or development. The intent is to make changes and additions harmonious, and prevent the intrusion of incongruous elements that might detract from the aesthetic and historic values of the district. Historic district commissions are only allowed to review changes to exterior architectural features visible from a public way. The ordinance or bylaw creating the district may also exclude certain categories from review; most frequently these are paint color, storm windows and doors, and window air conditioning units. The purpose of a local historic district is not to halt growth, but to allow for thoughtful consideration of change.
- Local Historic Districts can be credited with saving the character of many areas in Massachusetts.
- Local Historic Districts provide protection from demolitions and inappropriate remodeling.
- Local Historic Districts provide assurance that the historic built environment will be there for future generations to enjoy Local Historic Districts provide a visual sense of the past.
- Local Historic Districts create pride in the community.
- Local Historic Districts create neighborhood stabilization
- Local Historic Districts provide schoolchildren with educational opportunities.
According to MGL Chapter 40C, local historic district study committees are required to hold a public hearing prior to a vote of town meeting. The public hearing cannot be held until 60 days after the preliminary study report has been submitted to the Massachusetts Historical Commission and the Planning Board.
At least fourteen days before the scheduled date of the public hearing, all owners of property in the proposed district must be given written notice of the hearing. The notice should be sent to the owner of record according to the most recent list maintained by the local board of assessors, not to 'occupant'. Property owners should also receive information on where the Preliminary Study Report may be obtained and/or reviewed. At the same time, notice of the hearing should also be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the city or town, given to the municipal clerk and municipal officials, and posted at the city or town hall. At the public hearing, the study committee will answer questions about the local historic district process, the architectural and historical significance of the area proposed for designation, and the provisions of the proposed local historic district ordinance or bylaw.
Following the public hearing, the study committee will prepare a final report, incorporating comments and recommendations from the Planning Board, MHC, and the community. The final report will be accompanied by a map of the proposed district, suitable for recording, and a copy of the proposed bylaw or ordinance. The final report is then submitted for consideration to town meeting. The town will be required to submit a copy of the final report and bylaw to the State Attorney General's office for review if the district is adopted. A copy of the final report should also be sent to the Massachusetts Historical Commission.