Vol. IV No. 2 1/15/2023
Editorial: Where there's a will...
Thank you to the Chair of our Select Board and the Town Administrator for their response to the Stockbridge Updates editorial of January 1, 2023, including Town Counsel's opinion.
The characterization of MACRIS, state, and federal laws is correct, but not necessarily relevant. Demolition of aged and historically significant structures in Stockbridge is controlled by Article XXII of the Stockbridge Bylaws. Article XXII also established the Historic Preservation Committee to make the determination based upon the variables articulated in the bylaw. Article XXII does not mention size as a variable that triggers or fails to trigger the process required prior to an allowable demolition. (Click here to read the bylaw; appears on page 40)
Furthermore, the stated purpose of the bylaw is not to advise the Building Inspector but to protect our historic structures. Paragraph one reads, "This Article is adopted for the purpose of protecting and preserving significant historic buildings within the Town and encouraging owners of such buildings to seek out alternative options to preserve, rehabilitate or restore such buildings rather than to demolish them."
If there is confusion about something so basic as purpose, then perhaps the bylaw should be rewritten for clarity.
Stockbridge is well equipped to deal with saving an important historic structure and a bylaw that mandates informing the Town be informed if demolition is contemplated. Town Counsel searching for an interpretation after the fact that exonerates what came before?
SU has praised our former Stockbridge citizens for the hard and comprehensive work they put into bylaws that protect this village. Many others have joined in that praise. The law addresses the point where individual rights stop and communal interests begin. The law limits individual behavior. Not everyone likes that, but, it is left to us to enforce those bylaws. If the bylaw gave us the way, do we have the will?
Photo: Lionel Delevingne