On Thursday, Tammy Absher, Lexington's Director of Community and Business Development, asked the Lexington Historic Preservation Commission to present the proposed local historic district and its final draft of design regulations to City Council for approval.
The commission subsequently unanimously approved the recommendation.
This happened in front of maybe 10 approving and like-minded people sitting in the gallery. I was one of them, along with my wife, Kim. "Finally," I thought to myself. This could actually happen. I could hardly suppress my smile and pleasure. I wanted to high-five somebody.
The next step is that the proposal for Lexington's pilot local historic district (inclusive of West Center Street to West 3rd Avenue east to west, and South State Street to South Payne Street north to south) will be reviewed by the Planning Board, and from there, with their recommendations, be presented to City Council for its consideration to be added as an amendment to the zoning ordinance.
I'm excited about this. I even went up to the podium and spoke into the microphone to tell the commission how excited I was. (I'd never publicly spoke into a mic before; it was a little unnerving and somewhat distracting to hear my voice amplified). I think it's now in the public record that I used the incredibly articulate phrase "smack dab" as I gave my street address and described how close to the middle of the proposed district I lived, as in Smack Dab in the middle (well, I am, more or less).
All of this has been a while in coming. There have been a series of public meetings, sometimes contentious, as input from the community was digested and then drafted and redrafted in to the final guidelines designed to specifically fit Lexington. From what I can tell, the end result is a set of regulations far more relaxed and flexible than the original draft. To me, it's perfect.
Kim and I both think it's a win-win situation. Why? No tax monies are involved in this, yet we have a chance to preserve the architecture, heritage and character of a neighborhood that is more than 100 years old. We have a chance to stabilize neighborhood property values in an unstable economy; we have an opportunity to protect our neighborhood from any encroaching commercialization. Perhaps just as importantly, we might be able to create a legacy of preservation and stewardship to pass on to future generations. This town has already lost significant structures, I'd hate to see it lose any more.
This is not a done deal yet.
But at least we're moving forward. We've given ourselves a chance.