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Plan to expand Historic District meets skepticism

by | Oct 25, 2018 | News

Turnout was slim, but animated, at a public forum held earlier this month by the Hopkinton Historic District Commission on the proposed expansion of the Center Historic District.

The Oct. 11 meeting was the second of what will be three public forums on the proposal. The last is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 1, at 7 p.m. at the HCAM studios, 77 Main St.

Following that, according to Historic District Commission chair Amy Ritterbusch, “we’ll look at all the public input received and potentially make some changes to our recommendations and then do another mailing to the residents of the expansion area.”

“We are still near the beginning of the timeline,” said Ritterbusch.

Eventually the plan will need to be approved by Town Meeting, however, Ritterbusch said she doubted that the plan would be finalized by this spring.

Besides Ritterbusch, Historic District Commission members at the recent forum were  Jeanette Thomson, architect; Beth Watson, at-large member; Beth Kelly, vice chair (and resident of the district); Mike Auen, Realtor; and Melanie Smith, at-large member. Maryanne Chambers, Historical Society representative, did not attend.

The following streets are included in the proposed historic district expansion: Ash Street #0-36 (#0,1,5,11 are already in district), Fenton Street (all), Maple Street #1-19 , Church Street (all), Church Place (all), Price Street (all), Grove Street #1-57, Walcott Street (all), A Street (all), B Street (all), C Street (all), Claflin Street (all), East Main Street – Add #7-9 (#0,5 are already in the district), Main St – Add all of the even side #2-28 (#18 Town Hall is already in the district, as well as the odd side #13-45), and Hayden Rowe Street  #1-81 (#2,4,6,8 are already in the district).

Only five residents living within the boundaries of the proposed expanded district testified at the recent forum.

They were: Tom Terry, Maple Street; Dale Danahy, East Main Street; Jeanne Marquedant, Hayden Rowe Street; Barbara Burnham, Hayden Rowe Street; and Sybil Long, Ash Street.

Most expressed varying degrees of skepticism about the proposed expansion of the Center Historic District.

“I trust you on the commission now,” said Danahy, “but what will happen in the future when membership changes?”

Terry told the commission, “I think you’re opening a can of worms.”

He suggested that expanding the historical district, with the extra layer of restrictions that would follow, might put a damper on development.

“I don’t think it’s good for the economics of the town,” Terry said, adding his opinion that Hopkinton’s architecture doesn’t have any predominant historic characteristics.

“The architectural history of this town doesn’t exist, other than we’re like every other town,” he said. “We don’t have any great buildings that are in danger of being torn down. The town has a nice little character. And some are big and some are small. I think we’re dealing with a problem that we don’t have.”

According to the town’s website, the Hopkinton Center Historic District was established by the townspeople in 1979, consisting primarily of properties surrounding the Town Common, the Common itself, and properties along the south side of Main Street, ending near the corner of Grove Street. A small portion of East Main Street is also included. In recent years, Center School and the Town Hall have been added to the district.

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