Historical Commission pursuing Historic District without restrictions in Main St area downtown (Updated)

Above: Some of the homes in the downtown area the Historical Commission thinks is worthy of becoming a non-restrictive Historic District. (images cropped from Google Maps)

The Southborough Historical Commission has been working towards creation of a National Register Historic District along Main Street. The critical message for homeowners is the district would not impose restrictions.

NRHD is a purely honorary designation, and DOES NOT impose ANY restrictions on property owners, it is therefore an ideal way to foster a sense of community pride in Southborough.

​In a nutshell, a National Register Historic District in Southborough will provide All Upside — No Downside.

Kate Matison, Vice Chair of the Commission explains, the Commission isn’t looking to impose their interest. Members took up the cause at request of interested Main Street residents. When owners of historic homes had trouble getting the ball rolling, the commission agreed to do it for them.

And unlike bylaw initiatives, the only people who get to vote on the decision are owners of properties inside the district. (One vote per owner, regardless of how many properties they own.)

southborough-historic-district-map_1_origThe district would cover the downtown Main Street area and some portions of offshoots: Common St and St. Mark’s St, plus Middle, Cordaville, and Latisquama roads. (For details – click on the map to enlarge, or click here for the address list.)

The Commission has mailed out information to owners whose properties are in the proposed district. It invites the owners to an informational meeting to learn more. 

That September 29th session is to explain the program and answer any questions.

The mailer also includes a flyer from the Mass Historical Commission explaining the key differences between this program and more restrictive local historic districts. When towns create their own local historic districts, they often include restrictions on changes to buildings’ appearance, additions, etc.

The only way property owners in the National district are restricted is if they take advantage of related financial incentives for preservation. (It looks like those are only available to income-producing properties, municipal buildings, or private non-profits.)

Meanwhile, the benefits being touted are:

  • sense of community and pride – through recognition of the area’s history
  • allows owners of income-producing properties certain federal tax incentives for preservation
  • provides limited protection from adverse effects by federal or state involved projects

Matison told selectmen on Tuesday that homes in the district could see a rise in property values, but she doesn’t think it would be significant.

The process for creating the district requires two official meetings and a vote. A public meeting will be held November 9 at the Town House with the Mass Historical Commission. MHC will make a presentation. Their representative will assess whether there is enough support to proceed.

If the process continues, a second meeting and vote would be scheduled and publicly posted.

To learn more about the initiative, check out the Historical Commission’s website.

Updated (9/23/16 11:20 am): I misread the map when I listed Park St in the district. (Properties on Latisquama that abut Park St are included, but no Park St addresses.)

And, it turns out that the September 29th meeting is a public meeting. That means anyone can attend. That is September 29 from 6:00 – 7:30 pm at the Community House (28 Main Street). Drinks and cheese will be served.

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