By Buffy Calvert

At its meeting on October 11th, the Town Planning Board had a short agenda but lengthy discussion. Chairman Frank Winkler and members, Alex Adelson, Bill Palmer, Art Reed and John Reynolds, appointed Winkler and Reed to represent the Planning Board on the Committee to review and tweak the Andes Comprehensive Plan adopted in 2003. They agreed it was ripe for review. For example: Airbnb didn’t even exist back then! Now this unseen enterprise is a major feature of our economy.

Although no formal request has yet been made for its input, the Planning Board discussed at length a draft of the proposed Historic Preservation Law. As outlined in the draft document, the law would be administered by a 5-person Commission appointed by the Town Board. They would select Historic Districts and Landmarks. The law would be triggered by proposed alteration or demolition or neglect by owners of buildings designated as part of a Historic District or a Landmark.

Any owner of such a building who wanted to alter its exterior would need to go for a building permit, get approval from the Planning Board and apply to the Historic Preservation Commission for a “Certificate of Appropriateness.” Without approval of each of these entities, work could not proceed.

Routine maintenance, including painting, is not considered alteration. Changes to windows, porches, roof lines, doors, or “historic features,” etc. would require all three applications.

The Commission would also monitor neglect. The draft  document reads: “No person [owning a building] in a historic district shall permit the property to fall into a serious state of disrepair…which would, in the judgment of the Town of Andes Historic Preservation Commission, produce a detrimental effect upon the character of the historic district as a whole…” [Section 18 c]

Demolition is frowned upon as it destroys a historic place forever. It must be avoided unless the building is a public hazard or totally worthless.

Penalties for violating this law are, as one Planning Board member put it, “robust.” “Violation of this law is deemed an offense punishable by a fine of $100 for each day that the violation continues, imprisonment for up to six months, or both.”

All members of the Planning Board, and this reporter, took home a copy of the draft document to study. It should be presented to the Town Board on November 9th. ~