Even though the Historic District Committee election is almost always a snoozer, we thought this year was going to be different. We were wrong.

With all the attention the committee attracted this year—most of it quite critical—we were surprised how uneventful the election turned out.

It all started back in March when the committee battled against a Sandwich Village homeowner’s wishes to put synthetic shingles on her 300-year-old home.

Committee members argued long and hard against the proposal. The discussion stretched over several meetings and drew crowds of people, most siding with the homeowner.

In the end, after many heated discussions, one deadlock vote, an appeal to the regional historic board, and even a few tears, the committee granted its approval—albeit reluctantly—for the polymer siding.

The brouhaha dredged up a lot of ill-will. Critics called the historic committee subjective and unfair. They said the committee was riding tall on its historic high-horse, imposing difficult and costly design requirements on homeowners within the district.

The events even caught the attention of the board of selectmen, who discussed briefly the board’s options for removing members from the historic group. The discussion went nowhere.

In September, the committee was thrust into the not-so-limelight again when it began its review of the redesigned zipline planned at Heritage Museums & Gardens.

These discussions also drew a large crowd and generated some spirited debate.

When the committee finally voted to approve the plans, some of Heritage’s neighbors were enraged.

More accusations of unfairness and even foul play were lobbed like hand grenades at the committee.

A lawsuit is now pending in Barnstable District Court that calls into question the fairness of the committee’s decision.

With all this happening in the nine months leading up to the committee election—an election that could have brought two new members to the historic committee—we expected some sort of organized effort to bring new blood to the board.

Nope.

The two candidates who ran unopposed for the seats are not newcomers in the least.

It’s anyone’s guess if this was because of voter apathy or evidence that those folks who complained so vehemently this year were only a vocal minority.

Perhaps, just perhaps, the vast majority of the homeowners within the town’s historic district are okay with the way things are.

(1) comment

angler

One would think given all of the controversy, surrounding the present committee between many of the decisions they have made that we would have seen more folks from the aggrieved situations have found at least two members to sit on this committee going forward. Once again the same results are in with the same folks being reelected to a position where by decisions did not meet the expectations of the majority citizens in this historic area of our town . Once again we will hear the cry of in justice in some of the way the process is unfolded, and the decisions are handed out. In some cases I have actually felt the same injustice in how this committee operates, however i do not live in this historic area of Sandwich , so all I can do is write and or address my concerns when ever I can. I also ask why are the same individuals allowed to run each year, and take on positions of authority . They want to serve our town, but perhaps time has come to include term limits that forces other to also become involved other than when the process is broken . The rotation of the chairman ship is a requirement under town bylaws, but it becomes a rotation between the chair and co chair in some cases and eventually they determine the outcome of influence when ever serious debates occur. Is it as bad as what has been portrayed over the years in some contemplation ? Then one would think that a reasonable process would unfold to find new citizens from this part of town to actually put in place new leadership , at least to help define what are the duties of this historic committee when it comes to following all of the present laws they are incumbent to follow.,prior to making any legal decision with in the historic district itself. A wise man once stated we can no longer cry wolf and then not do something to replace the wolf, for in the end we change nothing by apathy .

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