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Town of Lenox, MA

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Historical Commission Meeting Minutes07/12/2010
Minutes of July 12, 2010 Meeting at the Academy
Commissioners present:  Suzanne Pelton (SP), Olga Weiss (OW).
Volunteers present: Jim Biancolo (JB).  Guests present:  None.
Meeting called to order at 4:15 PM. Next meeting is scheduled for August 9, 2010 at 4 PM.
Minutes of the June 14, 2010 meeting were approved.
Old Business
Historic House Plaque Program
SP will work with Amy Lafave at the Lenox Library to determine the best way to make brochures available.  Preferred approach is to have the front and back of the brochure clearly visible on a counter card at the library check-out counter.  A supply of brochures would be kept behind the counter for the librarian to provide to interested individuals.  A similar approach in the Reference Section of the library would also be helpful.
A downloadable PDF version of the brochure is now available from a Quick Link (Historic House Plaque Program) on the Lenox web site’s home page.
JJ needs to get reimbursed for the brochure printing costs and will submit an invoice that must be initialed by three HC members before being submitted to the town.
No HC member could attend the July 6 HDC meeting for reviewing the historic house plaque design.  SP agreed to contact Peggy Ammendola to get the HC on the agenda for the next HDC meeting which will be on August 3rd.
Current Status:  SP and JB attended the August 3rd informal HDC meeting.  All HDC members liked the plaques.  No formal decisions were made as, by plan, no application for plaque approval had been previously submitted by the HC.  The HDC wants assurance that the plaques’ size, colors and contents will be adequately controlled and they also will wait until the BC and the BOS make decisions about whether or not the plaques need permits.  The HDC prefers to call the plaques markers and they want to review any marker that is planned to be within the HD.  Mary Albertson suggests that the HC accumulate a number of markers before filing an application with the HDC.  She also thinks the BOS might have to review any plaque planned for a town building.
We are still waiting for a decision from the BC as to whether the markers need permits.
Village Street Signs
SP (HC representative on the Village Improvement Committee (VIC)) made recommendations for directional signs to the VIC on April 27th.  Recommendations were for a ladder-sign structure that included two posts holding horizontal slats.  Each slat would contain the name of a single business and a small arrow indicating which way to turn to travel toward the business.  The structure would have a finial at the top of each post.  Posts and slats would be wooden.
Signs were not on the VIC agenda for their May 24th meeting.  At the VIC June 14th meeting SP learned that the DPW had already ordered metal signs (single centered post, no finials).  The DPW position was that metal had to ordered for expediency since the tourist season was upon us.
The HC continues to be frustrated with the way decisions are made by town officials and believes continuing to express these frustrations is the best way to affect change.  This is yet another example of a disregard for following proper review procedures.  This particular instance is connected with the VIC not yet being adequately formalized as an official town board (see VIC paragraph below).
JB reiterated that Greg Federspiel has suggested that the HC provide written guidelines to the VIC to help assure historical aspects are adequately considered.  No action was assigned for generating these guidelines.  JB suggests using guidelines from the existing HD Guidelines Document.
West Street Project
The HC continues to monitor this project’s planning to assure decision making project meetings are open for public comment.  As previously recorded, particular concern is the material used for and the width of the project’s sidewalks.
OW will measure the width of sidewalks in town to help assess the risk of edge damage if a five foot sidewalk is constructed instead of the present plan for a six foot width.
Current Status:  OW spoke with Greg Federspiel (GF) and it appears that decision making with respect to the West Street Contract will take place towards the end of August.  According to GF at least two BOS members mentioned the West Street issues, so, while it is not on the agenda, they remain aware.
Updates to Form B’s
JB summarized his telecom with Peter Stott at MHC Survey and Planning Department.  Peter explained that MHC considers the paper version of the Form B to be the master but MHC wants everyone to submit the paper version and a Word version of each Form B.  MHC files the paper version and loads a PDF of the Form B onto MACRIS so it can be accessed over the internet.  MHC keeps each Word file of the Form B’s and stores them in a limited access "system".  Lenox Form B's are scheduled to be scanned by MHC early in 2011 so submitting updated Form B’s should be done this year.
SP has confirmed that we just need to ask for a quote (an RFP is not necessary) since our project is less than $25k.  She stressed that the first most important step should be to figure out exactly what we want the Form B Consultant to do so we can specify it on Request for Quote.  SP will have another go at combining the three requests she found and forward to JB for comments.
JB will review the MACRIS site to see what capabilities exist for retrieving summary reports of on-line historical asset records.
Affirmative Maintenance Ordinance
The HC is awaiting comments from Mary Albertson on the draft version of the Affirmative Maintenance Ordinance forwarded to her on June 15th.  JB will follow up.
Current Status:  Mary Albertson responded via email on 7/19/2010.  Her comments follow.
I shared the draft document with the Planning Board (PB).  PB members understand the importance of maintaining historic properties but are concerned regarding day-to-day enforcement.  You noted that in preparing the draft document you used information from Somerville, Lowell, Nantucket and Newton.  The PB members and I are interested in learning more about how the aforementioned communities handle enforcement.  Also, do these communities have statistics on the success of their ordinance/bylaw?  I would welcome the opportunity to review this information and share it with the PB.  I suggest that the Building Commissioner is the only town official with the expertise to enforce this type of bylaw (Penalty).  The HDC could serve as the review board to determine hardship (Waiver).
Village Improvement Committee Responsibilities
The VIC is still not identified on the town’s web site.  Membership, mission statement, regular meeting times, minutes and agendas are not readily available to the public.  JB to discuss with GF.
Update Board of Selectmen
It was reiterated that the HC provide the Board of Selectmen with periodic HC status updates since the BOS is interested in getting more informed on the activities of Lenox’s boards, committees and commissions.  The Form B update project is of particular interest.

New Business
HC Membership
Effective June 23, 2010 Ellie Geller and Sharon Hughes resigned due to personal time constraints.  They will be sorely missed.

The meeting was adjourned at 5:05 PM
Respectfully submitted.
Jim Biancolo, HC Volunteer

Lenox Town Hall  6 Walker Street, Lenox, MA 01240   PH: (413) 637-5500