Abington Historical Commission
Research To Establish A Historic District In Abington
Frequently Asked Questions
I thought that we were already in a historic district?
No, we currently do not have any local historic districts in Abington.
How is a local historic district created?
The first step is to find out what residents and property owners think. If there is interest in creating a local historic district, the board of selectmen appoints a study committee that will investigate local historic district designations further. The study committee holds public meetings, seeks public input, researches the history of the area and prepares a report on their findings. The final step is passage of a historic district bylaw by a two-thirds majority at town meetings.
If my house is included in the local historic district, does that mean I have to make it look historic?
No, you can maintain the current look of your house as long as you would like. A local historic district only reviews proposed changes to exterior architectural features. Routine maintaince of your house is exempt from review.
What kinds of things are reviewed by a historic district commission?
Exterior architectural features visible from a public way are reviewed. Interior changes, landscaping, maintaince and exterior features not visible from a public way are not reviewed. Other exemptions can also be included in the bylaw.
Who are members of the historic district commission?
A local bylaw describes specifically how the Board of selectmen will make appointees to the Historic District Commission. In other communities in Massachusetts, the historic district commission consists of members such as architects, realtors, residents and property owners of the district.
Does this mean I can’t paint my house any color I want?
While some local historic districts in Massachusetts do include paint color review, we are recommending Not to include any paint color review.
If my building was located in a local historic district and I was constructing an addition, what would I have to do?
Before acquiring the building permit for your addition, you would fill out an application to the Historic District Commission. The Commission would hold a public hearing and review the proposed plans to make sure that they are appropriate changes to the historic district. If the addition was appropriate, the district commission would issue a certificate. You would then present the Certificate to the Building Inspector to get your building permit. If the addition was not found appropriate, then the Commission would explain to you how the project could be improved.
Isn’t this just another level of bureaucracy?
While it is true that an additional step is needed for some projects, the benefits of protecting the rich heritage found in our town outweighs this added step. Our town contains buildings 100 and even 200 years old. Without a local historic district, these gems that have lasted so long could be demolished or irreparably altered tomorrow.
What will happen to the value of my property if a local historic district is established?
No one can predict the future but studies around the country suggest that property values stay the same or increase faster in local historic districts compared to similar, non-designated areas.
If my neighbors and I already maintain the historic character of our properties, why do we need an historic district?
By having a local historic district, you can be assured that a NEW property owner across the street from your house will also maintain the historic character of the neighborhood. In addition a local historic district increases/makes eligible your community to tax incentives and MPPF.