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Future of Claflin house uncertain

by | Jun 26, 2019 | News

Creation of a single use historic district at 76 Main St. in downtown Hopkinton was approved by Town Meeting in early May with the required two-thirds vote, but what are the next steps for the Claflin house to complete the establishment of the single use historic district? The Final Study Report voted at Town Meeting provides some history and an outline of some of those steps.

The report reads: “The current property owner sought a demolition permit for the Claflin House; the Hopkinton Historical Commission then imposed a six-month demolition delay, which will expire July 4, 2019. The Hopkinton Historic District Commission, which oversees the existing Hopkinton Center Historic District half a mile east of the subject property, is seeking to establish the Aaron and Lucy Claflin House Historic District before the demolition delay expires.”

Critical to the process is approval by the attorney general following Town Meeting; a process that can take up to 90 days after submittal of the appropriate documentation. In the case of the Claflin house, this creates the possibility that the demolition delay may expire before the single use historic district is finalized, putting the building at risk of being torn down.

According to Town Manager Norman Khumalo, the town submitted a request to expedite the review of the 76 Main Street Historic District designation to the attorney general’s office on May 13 per the request of the previous Select Board chair, Claire Wright. “Thereafter, the town submitted its Town Meeting package to the attorney general,” he said.

Amy Ritterbusch, chair of the Historic District Commission, acknowledged some concern that the demolition delay could expire before the certification of the single use historic district is approved by the attorney general, leaving a window of opportunity for the developer to demolish the Claflin house.

“We are anxious about the tight timeline, but we know that Town Hall has been working very hard to get the paperwork submitted early to the attorney general’s office, and that former Select Board chair Claire Wright had directed Town Counsel to request expedited review of Town Meeting Article 46 for the creation of the 76 Main Street Historic District,” Ritterbusch said.

She also confirmed that the Massachusetts Historical Commission has been in touch with the attorney general’s office about the tight timeline and that once the attorney general’s approval has been received, the Historic District Commission will need to file a map of the district with the Registry of Deeds.

Added Ritterbusch: “In the worst-case scenario that the attorney general approval comes after the demolition delay expires, the property would still be in a Historic District and no new building could be built without first receiving a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Historic District Commission. However, I am hopeful that the property owner will opt to work with the Historic District Commission to come up with a new plan that will preserve the historic structure at the front of the lot, while still being profitable for the owner. For example, an addition or new structure behind the historic building with a design compatible with the character of the Historic District.”

Meanwhile, the owner of 76 Main St., Paul Mastroianni of REC Hopkinton, LLC, has requested a continuation of the property’s site plan review by the Planning Board. The continued public hearing on the agenda for the June 10 Planning Board meeting was voted by the board for continuation until July 22.

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