Many residents are protesting the proposed development set to be built at 130 Main St., as is evident by recent attendance at Zoning Board of Appeals public hearings. Builder Tim Shay plans a mixed use building on the property, both residential and commerical.
A public hearing that was held by the ZBA two weeks ago has been continued; the board has fielded overwhelming resistance from neighbors concerned with issues of traffic, population and privacy.
On Wednesday, March 7, the Historical Commission also holds a public hearing on the property to determine if the property is considered "significant." Based on feedback from the public, and experts, the commission reviews the property (including a walk-through) to determine if it meets the criteria; a quarom vote of four out of five would deem it significant.
A building, such as the house at 130 Main St., is automatically listed to go before the commission before a developer can start demolition and/or construction if the building is more than 100 years old. The house at 130 Main St. was built around 1830.
"Because the house is over 100 years old, we're involved automatically," said Marie Nieber, commission member. "It shows up on the permit processing. If the answer is 'yes,' then we get involved. There is a bit of history to it, and that's what we have to decide tonight."
Nieber said the commission must look at such criteria as architecture, as well as history, and see how it "all comes into play to see whether we give it our blessing to be knocked down."
If the commission votes on a "significant building" finding, it works with the builder for 180 days to show ways in which the property can be preserved. Nieber pointed to what is presently Special Teas, which was the "Stone House," as an example of preserving, but using, a property.
"We just try to do something alternative," said Nieber. "I live in an old house, for instance, and I can do what I want with my house. If the house was on the national register, the guy probably wouldn’t even try to buy the property, because that is protected."
If a property is voted to be significant, the owner can still demolish it after 180 days; the purpose of the time period, Nieber explains, is simply to work with the owner to suggest alternatives.
So far, Neiber said, no building that has come before the commission has been deemed significant. That, she said, could change with the property at 130 Main St.
"It has never happened yet," she said. "Usually they get knocked down. But this one is a different story. This one has neighbors up in arms. And just reading messages from other commission members and the Historical Society, this one could be thought of as significant."
Its historic name is the "Stephen Hunt House," and according to the historical narrative and inventory, which can be found here, "This house has historical significance because of its associations with one of Northborough’s important early industries, shoemaking. Capt. Jeremiah Hunt and his brother, Stephen Hunt, made shoes at this site prior to 1817, when the brothers decided to carry on the business separately. Jeremiah Hunt built the house at 140 Main St., where he established a shoe shop in the ell, and Stephen Hunt continued at the old location."
The Historical Commission public hearing is on Wednesday, March 7, at 7 p.m. at the Northborough Free Library.