BERLIN – Members of the town’s historic district commission want people buying homes in Berlin to be aware of historic district regulations before they buy.
Discussion of a young couple’s request to erect a fence on their property led the Berlin Historic District Commission (HDC) Wednesday into a conversation about the need to increase awareness of historic district standards.
HDC member Mary Moore, who brought up the issue, said she strongly felt those buying homes in Berlin needed to be advised up front if those homes were in the town’s historic district, as they were held to particular standards.
“I feel very strongly about this,” she said.
Moore said that as homeowners, particularly young homeowners, approached the commission seeking approval for changes to their homes, they often argued that the high cost of meeting historic standards was the reason for their proposed deviations. When homeowners are advised they should have wood windows within the district, Moore said they often told the HDC they couldn’t afford them.
“Then maybe you shouldn’t have bought the house,” she said.
She said the issue had come up with commercial properties as well. She said if buyers were informed of historic standards early on, by someone such as a Realtor, they wouldn’t be surprised later on.
“I think that’s something we should seriously work on,” she said.
Carol Rose, chair of the commission, said that in her 11 years on the HDC she’d tried twice to bring the issue to the mayor and council and had not been successful.
“They do it in Salisbury,” she said. “They have a form that has to be signed.”
Moore stressed that the HDC should make another effort at creating some notification for newcomers to Berlin.
“Let’s get going on it again,” she said.
During Wednesday’s meeting, the commission approved a request for a backyard fence at 105 S. Main St. and gave the property owner at 318 S. Main St. permission to enclose an exterior porch.
HDC members also voted to have Rose continue as chairperson of the commission. Last month, selection of a chairperson was delayed after Rose, who has been the chair for several years, declined to serve. When the issue came up again this week, Moore asked Rose to reconsider her decision to step down as chair.
“You’ve done such a terrific job for us,” she said.
HDC member Betty Tustin agreed.
“You’re very skilled at this position,” she said.
Several HDC members told Rose they’d offer her more support if she continued in the role.
“Certainly it’s a personal decision but all of us would feel at a loss if you didn’t want to be chair,” Moore said.
Rose reluctantly agreed to serve until the end of the year. The HDC is expected to select a new leader in January.
The commission voted for Robert Poli to serve as vice chair. Moore nominated him for the position, praising his attention to detail.
“Your standards are very high,” she said. “Your eye is very sharp.”