Historic commission accepts rules and procedure changes

Following a public hearing during its Sept. 5 meeting, the Historic District and Historic Property Commission voted to accept several proposed changes to its rules and procedures, including:

  • Changing the name of the Connecticut Historic Preservation Office to “State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).”

  • Expanding the definition of a “new historic district.”

  • Adding a “new historic property” description.

  • Replacing language to reflect Freedom of Information Act requirements regarding executive sessions.

  • Updating date, time and location information regarding meetings.

  • Adding a “minor activity” exception to public hearings on Certificate of Appropriateness applications.

After realizing the commission’s rules and regulations hadn’t been updated in awhile, Chair Allison Sanders said, the commission identified areas where changes could be made.

“All these have been reviewed with the town attorney, who gave us guidance as to whether this was appropriate and/or binding to the statute that we may not have been aware of,” said Sanders.

Ridgefield Road resident Richard Bondy asked if there’s “a procedure for the homeowners to be notified far in advance when a section is being considered for a historic district.”

Sanders said she believes that “generally, as has happened previously and most recently, neighbors had informal neighborhood meetings, which they are allowed to have.”

“This is all based on neighborhood interest,” she said, adding that notifying homeowners is not under the purview of the historic commission.

“It seems to me that one of the objectives of the historic commission is to create more historic districts,” Bondy said.

“That is not our goal,” commission member Matthew Kehoe replied. “It’s our goal to do that where appropriate — then we’ll consider it, but we’re not like police counting tickets at the end of the month. That’s not the process,” he said.

“If something’s introduced, that’s when it gets evaluated by us, but it is by no means our goal ... to create [historic districts].”

Kehoe said the commission has “no vested interest on a personal level or professional level other than our responsibility to the town to evaluate these things when they come up.”

“Also, once there is a study grouped formed, there is a whole outlined procedure that the study group goes through. Part of it involves doing research on the properties and figuring out where we may have a potential area that is possible for a historic district,” said Sanders.

“Once that’s all pulled together, it’s sent to the state. There is also state input as to what ... makes the cut of being a historic district, so it’s not just our commission that says whether or not it qualifies.”

The changes to the historic commission's rules and procedures, which can be viewed here.