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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Historic Status for Maplewood Avenue Sought

By James Lomuscio

Westport’s Maplewood Avenue, a tucked away corner of early 20th century homes, moved closer to a historic district status today with the Board of Selectmen’s unanimous approval of a $4,500 contract to hire an architectural historian to conduct an inventory of the neighborhood.

The approval comes on the heels of last week’s teardown of 20 Maplewood Ave. and a neighborhood outcry.

Francis Henkels, chairman of the Historic District Commission (HDC), said that the funds to hire David Taylor of Brookville, Pa.-based Taylor & Taylor Associates, Inc. would be reimbursed to the town via an approved grant from the State Historic Preservation Office. Taylor’s contract runs from April 3 to early June, Henkles said.

Henkels described Maplewood Avenue as “a distinct corner of Westport,” a one-way street that does not get much traffic. He said that many of the 22 early 1900s houses have been in families for generations.

“This neighborhood organization very enthusiastically came to us,” Henkels said.

Henkels said there are five historic districts already in town. For Maplewood Avenue to earn historic status, it would require a two-thirds, secret ballot vote of its residents. If approved, homeowners would have to go before the HDC to get a certificate of appropriateness for any remodeling or additions.

“It’s so that it does not adversely affect the house or the streetscape,” said Carol Leahey, HDC staff administrator and coordinator.

Second Selectman Avi Kaner asked if such status would give the HDC the authority to deny a request to tear down and build a new home on site, and Henkels and Leahey noted it was in the commission’s authority.

“This is a really unique street,” First Selectman Jim Marpe said prior to the vote. “It has an interesting character to it.”

Speaking as a member of the public, Don Bergmann, a member of the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) brought up the teardown of 20 Maplewood Ave. last week.

“I applaud the efforts of this neighborhood to protect itself,” he said.

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Posted 03/26/14 at 02:10 PM  Permalink



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