Gloucester Daily Times
---- — To the Editor:
To read recent columns on these pages, you might think that Preserve Rockport is a radical group looking to control what people do to their homes.
This is not the case at all. Many of us are owners of homes over 100 years old, and we, too, are concerned about our private property rights. That’s why we were very careful with our recommendations to the town.
Our proposed bylaw does not interfere in any way with the rights of a homeowner to make changes to an older home. If it did, I’m sure most of us would strongly oppose it; I know I would.
Many of us have made major improvements to our old homes, and no way would we want site plan review for such work. But we don’t have to worry, because the proposed bylaw does not call for site plan review for repairs, renovations or any other improvements. It calls for site plan review in one situation only: outright demolition.
Demolition of a home that has stood more than a century affects the entire neighborhood. Site plan review simply ensures that neighbors are informed about it in advance, and have the opportunity, along with town authorities, to review the proposal.
It is a short time-out that provides an opportunity for suggestions to be made that might change the outcome for example, a new plan to preserve the home or move it, rather than demolish it. Or it may not result in any change of plan at all. But at least it will ensure that any demolition and new construction will be done in accordance with all town codes, to minimize adverse impact on the neighborhood.
It’s a reasonable measure that deserves consideration as we try to strike a balance between changing with the times and preserving the character of the town we love.
As we have the discussion, let’s not claim the bylaw does something it doesn’t. Let’s not stir up fears: let’s stick to the facts.