Selection men call on Historical Commission to stop using documents containing “potentially illegal” information
By Susan Gonsalves, Contributing writer
SOUTHBOROUGH – Selectmen recently voted for City Council to order the Historical Commission to stop using certain documents related to the Southborough Demolition Time Limit By-law. They further asked the city clerk to remove these documents from the city’s website.
Following a lengthy discussion at a July 22 board meeting, city attorney Jay Talerman also agreed to meet with city administrator Mark Purple and the Historical Commission to discuss what the Board can and cannot ask of landowners under the regulation.
The back and forth between the two councils in recent months has focused on the property at 15 Main Street. Marlet. Selectmen argues that this is something the town assembly never voted to authorize when it passed the bylaw in 2015.
What is at issue is the language saying that it is the “obligation” of the owner to submit a work plan with the Commission either to preserve the property, in whole or in part, or to find another. buyer willing to do so.
Commission member Jim Blaschke, who was present at the July 22 meeting, asked the town’s lawyer if it was “unusual” to require a landlord to put his property on the site. market during the nine month period to see if there was a legitimate buyer. .
“It’s not just unusual; it would probably be illegal, ”said Talerman.
Blaschke said the belief was that if the owner couldn’t preserve a building, someone else could.
“Is this an illegal request from the owner?” ” He asked.
The town’s lawyer replied that the owner cannot be forced to do anything. The city’s regulations, he said, go as far as the city could go “in terms of encroaching on the rights of the owner.”
Asking owners to engage in an activity they choose not to cost money is “one step too far,” he said.
The responsibility of the owner is to provide information, to allow access to the property and to secure the premises, as well as to participate in the search for preservation options and to “actively cooperate in the search for alternatives with the Commission and all interested parties “, depending on the demolition deadline. Stopped.
Other words in the Commission documents, however, indicated that if the applicant did not make a good faith effort to find an alternative to demolition, the process would stop and not resume until the Commission decides that “reasonable and good faith” efforts are being made.
“You just don’t have the power to do it. Point. Said Selectman Martin Healey, referring to the Commission. He brought forward a motion to “stop” using the documents, saying the wording in them appeared to be “imported” from elsewhere.
“We don’t know where they come from, but [it’s] pretty clear, they provide inaccurate information, potentially illegal, in my opinion. We have to get rid of it, ”Healey said.
Talerman also spoke about approaches to support the preservation of historic homes. For example, the creation of a historic district would allow additional protections, ensuring that construction is done in a “historically accurate manner”, for example.
However, while such designations could be used to slow things down, preventing demolition would be difficult, he said.
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