Requesting an amendment to the Local Historic District Map to create 3 new Districts (Thurston-Walnut, Pearl, and 9 Brastow) and add 6 properties to these Districts, and to add 5 properties to existing Districts (Central-Atherton-Spring-Summer (CASS), Florence-Myrtle, Flint, and Prospect Hill) (Group D).
To the Honorable Board:
Attached please find an ordinance adopting map amendments pursuant to the Historic District Ordinance, first adopted in 1985, which proposes to: 1) create three new LHDs (Thurston-Walnut, Pearl, and 9 Brastow) and add 6 properties to these districts; 2) expand 4 existing (or previously proposed) LHDs by adding 5 properties (Central-Atherton-Spring-Summer (CASS) (1 property), Florence-Myrtle (2 properties), Flint (1 property), and Prospect Hill (1 property). These properties have been labeled as Group D: 1865-1873 for the purposes of review of the proposed expansion of LHDs.
The proposed map amendments fulfill an overriding goal of the municipal ordinance by offering critical protection to older buildings that are emblematic of our community’s cultural heritage. The overall purpose of designating local historic districts is to make Somerville a more attractive and desirable place to live, work, and visit. This can be promoted by officially recognizing the value of the City’s remaining historically and architecturally significant properties and helping to conserve them over the longer term. We must also capitalize on our rich architectural heritage and appreciate the great economic value it brings to the community. Preservation is a cornerstone of Smart Growth strategies and the Green Movement as it recognizes that it is better to save and enhance, rather than to demolish and build with cheaper and less durable materials.
The buildings in this fourth grouping of properties are noteworthy because they were predominantly built at the time when Somerville was changing from a town to an incorporated city shortly following the end of the Civil War, and at time when the community was experiencing some prosperity. The proposed LHDs are also striking because they provide a visually appealing cluster of historically significant houses that represent a variety of architectural styles in many different neighborhoods of Somerville - East Somerville, Prospect Hill, Spring Hill, and Winter Hill.
Designation of these historic districts will not change the ownership or curtail the use of these properties. Rather it will help preserve their key exterior architectural features, and discourage the use of incompatible materials that detract from the historical character of the area. It is important to note that historic districts and designation does not prevent change from occurring, nor does it prevent new development. The intent of designation is to ensure that improvements and additions are reviewed in the context of the district and that there is thoughtful consideration of change. The review only applies to exterior architectural features that are publicly visible.
The attached package of map amendments and supporting survey forms and other documentation is the culmination of four and a half years of work by the City’s Historic Preservation Commission. I encourage your Honorable Board to view these amendments as a way to preserve significant vestiges of our past while we continue to move ahead seeking new growth and development for the future well-being of our community.
Staff from the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development will be available to respond to any questions you may have.
Joseph A. Curtatone
|RESULT:||REFERRED FOR RECOMMENDATION|
|RESULT:||APPROVED AS AMENDED|
|RESULT:||ORDINANCE ORDAINED. [UNANIMOUS]|
|AYES:||John M. Connolly, Dennis M. Sullivan, William A. White Jr., William M. Roche, Maryann M. Heuston, Thomas F. Taylor, Sean T. O’Donovan, Rebekah L. Gewirtz, Robert C. Trane|
|ABSENT:||Bruce M. Desmond, Walter F. Pero|