Historic District Committee Election

After last year’s election, Town Clerk Taylor White (right) congratulates newly elected Sandwich Historic District Committee member William Collins on his win. Mr. Collins’s term is up this year. He has decided not to seek reelection.

Two people are running for a single seat in a small, quirky and often uncontested election open only to residents of the Sandwich Historic District.

This year, the election for a four-year seat on the Sandwich Historic District Committee will be held on Tuesday, November 24, from 6 to 8 PM at the town clerk’s office at 145 Main Street.

The candidates vying for the seat are Yvonne Anderson, owner of the historic Newcomb Tavern on Grove Street in Sandwich Village; and Michael T. Sullivan of Knott Avenue on Town Neck, who has served as an alternate on the HDC for the past year.

“Historic preservation is very important to me, which is why I have spent about half a million dollars to maintain my [300-year-old] house,” Ms. Andersen said in a telephone interview this week. “I just want to see some fairness on a body that oversees the historic district.”

Ms. Anderson has crossed swords with members of the historic district committee recently over the replacement of aging wood shingles with vinyl shingles that look just like wood.

“We have a unique town—one of the most beautiful on Cape Cod—but that doesn’t mean we can’t have changes,” especially as modern materials become available that allow people to more easily maintain the look and feel of their homes without emptying their bank accounts to do so, Ms. Anderson said.

People should be allowed to renovate or add onto their homes or businesses if the renovations are in keeping with the look and feel of the historic district, Ms. Anderson said.

She is running against Mr. Sullivan, an attorney, who has owned a home on Knott Avenue since 1994 and moved to town permanently about six years ago.

Mr. Sullivan said he, too, believes home and business owners should be accommodated.

“Each case is different, but we should be as flexible as possible with property owners,” Mr. Sullivan said.

He used as an example a recent HDC decision to allow the First Church of Christ on Main Street to use PVC panels that look just like wood to replace its rotting facade.

“The thinking on the board is evolving,” Mr. Sullivan said. “I would like to serve on the board to help make a difference.”

Whoever wins the election will have big shoes to fill.

The winner will be replacing veteran HDC member William R. Collins.

Mr. Collins, who has made some controversial decisions in his mission to save the last of Sandwich’s original housing stock, has served on the historic district committee for more than a decade.

He had hoped to retire last year, but felt he had to step up when former chairman Richard A. Claytor quit last fall.

Mr. Collins ran unopposed in November 2019 to fill Mr. Claytor’s unexpired term. That term is up on December 30.

Michelle Y. Raymond, the historic district committee’s administrator, has praised Mr. Collins for standing by his beliefs—even though they were not always those of the majority.

She said Mr. Collins spends many hours researching properties’ histories, reading files, going on site visits and poring over published materials on almost every application that comes before the historic district committee.

“Nobody on the committee works harder than he does,” Ms. Raymond has said. “He loves history and he loves this town.”

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