Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sentinel Editorial .. Winchester in the paper again.

Sentinel Editorial..Cooler heads prevail

Posted: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 
There are few times when a spat pitting local political factions against each other goes to town meeting voters and still results in a best-case outcome. Typically such squabbles go from bad to worse when they reach the point of being included on the town warrant.
Thus, our expectation s were low when the warrant to be presented at Winchester’s January deliberative session included a measure to rescind the town’s historic districts. At a hearing on the topic, several residents claimed to have been victimized by the district commission overstepping its bounds. Others, even more alarmingly, contended the town doesn’t have any history left to preserve and thus, there’s no need for the district.
Margaret A. Sharra, Winchester’s land-use administrator and code enforcement officer, said at the hearing the commission simply had not done its job as intended since it was created in 1997. It is worth noting Sharra owns property that several years ago was proposed for conversion to a dollar store. The commission refused to allow it. Sharra’s name was not attached to the petition warrant article, but several of her close friends and relatives were instrumental in getting it on the ballot.
In a state and region that ardently embraces its history, historic districts have become a valuable tool for preserving the aesthetics of the past. They are not always the right tool for a particular location, and they can result in picayune and arbitrary enforcement. Still, they represent an important arrow in the quivers of preservationists. Ironically, those most opposed to historic districts are often the owners of the very property they aim to protect, because they’re the ones whose use of their property is at stake. There are arguments to be made on both sides regarding property values within such districts, and the districts are often lightning rods for complaints and warnings about what the community “will become.”
But such debates usually take place when the districts are proposed, not decades later.
Coming out of the January hearing, there was little reason for optimism in Winchester for an amicable resolution.
There was one possible middle ground, however. The district commissioners had proposed an overhaul of their own regulations, and they submitted suggested revisions to the rules at about the same time that the petition emerged.
The 32 pages of revamped regulations may have eased the minds of some voters. Or perhaps it was simply the idea that the district commissioners were listening to the complaints and open to discussion. Maybe it was simply a matter of one faction in town outpolling another when all was said and done.
Whatever the case, voters last week chose not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, rejecting the petition article and keeping the historic districts in place — for now.
The town could find itself right back in the same situation entering 2015, but we choose to be hopeful the whole episode results in better communication among the officials and property owners involved, and that the proposed regulation update clarifies for everyone what’s expected within those zones.

If so, it could be an historic development.


Anonymous said...

Will have to make sure there is a Facebook page created just about this issue and the HDC, seems to be the way to get the true facts out there and allow residents to voice their opinions and concerns.
The "save out history" signs at the town hall on election day were very misleading and I think it caused to many people to vote the wrong way because they didn't understand the facts. We need to make sure this doesn't happen for next years voting. Preventing home owners from maintaining their personal property has nothing to do with saving our history.

Anonymous said...

Another village idiot heard from. No one is preventing homeowners from maintaining their property, stop spreading baloney.

Anonymous said...

This Village idiot can read, I've read all the minutes pertaining to our HDC and the property owners they treated unfairly. And I know many people who live in a HDC district and have no control over their own property's or how they were forced into these districts by voters who do not live in any of our HDC districts. Anonymous March 22, 2014 at 1:30 PM I bet you don't live in a HDC district.
The only baloney here was the whole "save our History" motto. Can you explain what we are saving and what anyone's personal house has to do with the towns history? Any voting on creating or disbanding such a district should have only been voted on by the actual property owners in said districts them selves, why the hell does someone who does not live in any of these districts have a right to vote about them?

Anonymous said...

You really are an idiot! You may be able to read but you don't comprehend anything about this whole debate. These two districts were formed long before those who are bitching the loudest ever bought property in them and further more, these property owners knew full well or should have known what was expected of them when they bought these properties. Crying now because you don't like the regulations and wanting to get rid of the Commission in charge of enforcing them is bogus; just like you. If you Majority rules my friend, I don't see you bitching about the real crap that goes on in this town which leads me to believe you are part of the real problem that we have here in Winchester.

laughing at you said...

How can you sit there and say you have read all of the minutes regarding the HDC, when none of the minutes ever get posted in this town? What do you have some kind of an insider feeding you crap?
There are only 4 recent meeting minutes posted for 2014, all in January, 6 meeting minutes posted for all of 2013 and all out of order so they must have been edited by we all know who and 6 meeting minutes posted for all of 2012. If you based your conclusions on what you read in edited partial meetings, like the poster above says, you are an idiot.

solution is simple said...

I think I have the solution to everyone's problems and it is just so simple I am surprised no one has thought of it before. All we do is simply have one warrant next year at deliberative and we dump everything and everyone. Problems solved everyone is happy.
You people bitching about not being able to do what you want to your homes because the commission is too restrictive look no further than your leaders for the real problems; they set the rules, the people on the HDC swore to enforce them. Don't like the rules, don't buy the house and don't vote for the people who are the real problem in this town. I won't mention names; but will say that having one woman so entwined in all of the doings of this town is ludicrous and therein lies the biggest problem. Having people in charge of money that have no fiscal restraint is the second issue that needs to be dealt with and a good start on fixing the rest of this town's problems would be to stop the cronyism and infuse our boards and departments with new people with new ideas and people who are in touch with reality that actually care about the town and their neighbors. Try it, you just may like the results. You have a whole year to think about it providing you don't lose your house to taxes.

Hope Full said...

I would be inclined to dump the HDC district, but didn't vote that way because, in my opinion, the Sharra's were not truth full about there intentions for that property from the beginning. I also don't like her strangle hold on this community, but it would seem to me that the general population is beginning to see through the town hall click.

moving on said...

It's a pretty sad thing to see that even outsiders can tell that all of this hoopla over our historic district commission is personal and the results of a few people in this town and their hangers on who think they run the show for everyone. Every time their is a piece in the paper about the goings on in this town, it always involves the same few individuals and their hi-jinks which ends up costing us thousands in legal fees every year. I just can't understand why people in this town don't see through all the bull and keep voting or allowing these people to be put in positions where their actions affect us all. We really deserve to be called the laughing stock of the county, we never learn from past mistakes and allow the same stuff to go on for years. We'll be leaving this town in a few weeks. Tired of high taxation, personal vendettas and having to explain to co-workers ever day what in hell goes on here. Good luck to those of you trying for change cause there are just too many people in this town that have no pride or sense and allow this to go on simply because they have no desire to do anything.

Please FIRE the Mayor said...

When you allow one person to control town hall you are asking for trouble. Especially when that one person has one goal - personal gain for her family and friends.

Is it possible to educate Mayor Margaret Sharra that the approved political system in Winchester is a Board of Selectman?

Anonymous said...

You have to remember, by her own statement, its her turf. Talk about the bully in the sand box.