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Historical District Bylaw Up for Vote in Mendon

Among the articles to be voted on during Mendon's May 5 Annual Town Meeting will be a bylaw which proposes to establish two historical districts in town.

Last year, the Selectmen voted to form the Historical District Study Committee, whose members were charged with investigating the possibility of establishing an official historic district(s) within Mendon for the purpose of preserving and protecting certain areas in town which hold historical significance.

After researching prospective areas, the Committee determined one possible historical district, the Mendon Center District, consisting of the triangle formed by Hastings St., Main St., and Elm St. and the portion of Main St. extending down to George St. This area contains historic homes, town buildings, commercial properties, churches, cemeteries and Founder's Park. The other district up for consideration is a single structure district located at 40 Millville Rd., which is one of the oldest homes in Mendon. That district would be deemed the Taft Homestead District.

The bylaw, Article 23 on the warrant, explains a seven member Commission would be appointed by the Selectmen who will administer and regulate the construction and alteration of structures or buildings within the districts as set forth in the criteria of Mass. General Law Chapter 40C. Recommended Commission members could include an individual from the town's Board of Realtors, one from the Mendon Historical Society, one from the Mendon Board of Architects and one property owner from each of the said districts. A Selectman could serve as a representative or other individuals the Selectmen see fit.

Part of the bylaw states, "except as this bylaw provides, no building or structure or part thereof within a district shall be constructed or altered in any way that affects the exterior architectural features as visible from a public street, public way, public park, or public body of water, unless the Commission shall first have issued a certificate with respect to such construction or alteration."

The bylaw also discusses procedures for review of applications, criteria for determinations, enforcement and penalties. There are also a number of exclusions covered in the bylaw, some of which include the color of paint, the color of materials used on roofs, certain temporary structures and signs, storm windows and doors, screens for windows and doors, and window air conditioners, among others.

The Study Committee has held several meetings with residents with the majority in attendance from the proposed districts. Committee Chair Mike Goddard said the first meeting was very positive with many in favor of moving forward. "It's about balance," he explained of establishing the historical districts "We're trying to balance the look and feel of the New England village without infringing upon development in town."

A public hearing on the bylaw is scheduled for April 27. More detailed information on the bylaw can be found on the Historical District Study Committee's Web page at wwwmendonma.gov. The Committee also has a Facebook page.

If the bylaw passes by a two-thirds majority vote, Article 24 is requesting $10,000 of Community Preservation Act funding be utilized for preservation restrictions on historic homes located in the districts. The funding is meant to provide an avenue to assist those residents affected by the proposed bylaw.




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