Blog :: 01-2020

Property Owners and Government - Finding the Balance

Image result for portsmouth mechanic street

Image result for portsmouth mechanic street

So first read this about a recent Historic District Commission public session in Portsmouth:  https://www.seacoastonline.com/news/20200103/renovation-of-1810-portsmouth-home-gets-traditional-makeover

Now my thoughts: 

I, like many of you, follow the ZBA and Planning Boards - to stay in touch with the changes we can expect in our towns, the relief being requested and the rationale behind the decisions that are reached.  Here is an interesting one. Of course I am only as good as my source here (the Herald's rendering of the meeting) but when I read subjective statements like, “I think you’re going to have to use more wood and more traditional materials.” or “I think it looks like an office that has been built onto a building. It’s got no residential character whatsoever, in my opinion. If we’re going in this direction, I just can’t support it at all.” - I wonder, What is the goal here? Is there a set of standards by which the homes must be renovated? Why some era's and not others? What about all the properties that have been bastardized over the years? And energy efficiency? - sometimes it seems the very same people who advocate to combat global warming through "green" measures of efficiency are the very same people holding builders and homeowners to an unrealistic and inefficient standard of building.   And most of all, what about a homeowner's Bundle of Legal Rights? These rights of ownership are bestowed upon the holder of the title to the real estate, and they include possession, control, exclusion, enjoyment, and disposition. Understood, that zoning ordinance requirements must be met, but subjective commissions IMO do not fall under this umbrella. Not to mention, anyone who has ever been subjected to these procedures knows that the cost of their project increases significantly and for what purpose or outcome, it is not always clear. Builders do not always have the deep pockets they are perceived to have, nor do individual homeowners. In fact, I've seen devastating financial outcomes.  We all know time marches on and I recognize this fine balance.  All that said the committees have a common thread in that they are comprised of citizens who have a genuine interest and love of our community, history and nature and are commended for their attention. So maybe this note will simply shed some light on another perspective.