Voters two weeks ago said "good-bye" to having commercial properties on Route 101 (between Meetinghouse and Wallace Roads) as well as Chestnut Drive and Bedford Center Road remain within the Historic District.
This was long overdue and Bedford voters spoke loud and clear on this issue, with roughly 2/3rds voting for this change. The regulations for commercial properties and residential properties are the same; so for now, the commercial property owners and the businesses no longer have to be subjected to overreaching and arbitrary regulations, that are interpreted on a subjective basis.
The time now is for an open discussion as to whether or not a Historic District is in fact needed in Bedford at all. To be certain, there are many historic-looking structures thoughout Bedford; most of which, by the way, are located outside of the current District. The "fear" that some people have is that without governmental regulation, property owners will not take care of their property, or will make decisions that a few people disagree with. What this cuts to is the heart of individual choice and decisions, vs. having someone else tell you what you can and cannot do with your own property.
Consider this; if you own property on the west side of the Wallace/North Amherst intersection, you can cut down trees on your property anytime you choose. If you live on the east side of that intersection, you have to go in front of the Historic District Commission and get PERMISSION to cut down your own tree, even if it is falling over and is a safety hazard. You also need to get permission on what colors to paint your home; what type of windows you are ALLOWED to install; etc etc.
If someone chooses to buy an older home, regardless of whether or not it is within the HD, it is their choice as to what to do. Presumably, if someone bought an older home, their tendancy would be to maintain it as it had been in years past. Someone looking for a modern home is very unlikely to purchase a 200 year old farmhouse that needs some TLC. These are personal choices that are made and should not be regulated by an arbitrary set of rules.
In examining the current HD boundaries, consider that within the boundaries, there are homes that are 200 plus years old, and there are homes less than 24 months old. Most of the homes are from the 1950s and 1960s, and not from the 1700's. There are more homes and buildings pre 1900 outside of the HD than inside. So, if we truly wanted to "protect" ourselves from ourselves, we would draw a line around the entire Town. I bet that would fail with close to 100% of the vote.
I trust in people to do what they believe best for their own properties, and do not feel that we need to have arbitrary and unncessary regulations governing the use of other people's homes and property. To that end, I would like to see an end to Bedford's Historic District next year.