2014-02-21 / Front Page

Historic districts on tap for Arundel?

Comprehensive Plan Committee to look into the ‘recognition of areas ... of historic significance’
By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer


Jennifer Thompson, one of the most decorated American Olympic female athletes, spoke to students at Sea Road School in Kennebunk on Valentine’s Day. A swimmer with 12 medals, Thompson’s visit was part of the students’ closing ceremonies. Thompson talked about the importance of not giving up, following passions and living a balanced life. (Courtesy photos) Jennifer Thompson, one of the most decorated American Olympic female athletes, spoke to students at Sea Road School in Kennebunk on Valentine’s Day. A swimmer with 12 medals, Thompson’s visit was part of the students’ closing ceremonies. Thompson talked about the importance of not giving up, following passions and living a balanced life. (Courtesy photos) ARUNDEL — The Comprehensive Plan Committee Wednesday, Feb. 12 agreed to begin research into creating possible historic districts in Arundel.

Although they did not prioritize, a handful of districts were mentioned — locations such as River Road, Route 111 and sections of Thompson Road. Arundel currently has no historic districts and the town has never conducted a historical survey.

Town Planner Tad Redway presented the idea to the committee at the Feb. 12 meeting.

“A historic district is anything you want it to be,” Redway told the committee. “But the concept of a historic district is recognition of areas of your town that have historic significance and then determining whether or not that area has some value that’s worth bringing some value to the public knowledge and perhaps even land use controls to ensure that that district is retained in its character.”

Typically a historical district serves as an architectural or landscape marker, Redway explained. “What we have are historic landscapes where we have agricultural areas ... houses of significance in terms of architectural significance and in terms of their historic significance.

“There are some areas in town that are very distinct and I think River Road is one of them. A whole series of houses — federal and some Georgian architecture dates back to the turn of the 18th century into the 19th century.”

“There’s also a pattern of open space and closed space,” Redway said. “The openings are usually accompanied by a house of a certain significance. The old time agriculture that everyone talks about, the remnants of those patterns are still in this particular area.”

The importance of a historic district is first and foremost awareness, Redway said.

“It’s the recognition, it’s different ... it’s a question of value to the community, whether these areas have value to the community or whether they don’t have value.”

Committee member and Arundel Historical Society President Donna der Kinderen, after independently working to determine the relative age of the housing stock in Arundel, found that the majority of homes date to the 19th century — pre-1800 to approximately 1896.

Said der Kinderen: “We certainly have a substantial number of homes that could be recognized and maybe through recognition have people more aware of the potential val- ue of preserving some of this. But that’s a big step down from enforcement.”

“As we get greater and greater development pressure there is going to be pressure on these landscapes, pressure on these buildings—are they worth saving? Well, it’s up to the community,” Redway said.

“Considering that we’re still projected to be the fastest growing town in York County, and that may just be a statistical anomaly, but that’s what the projections are in the next 10 years.”

“I wanted to bring it up because it is a glaring omission from our comprehensive plan and there needs to be opportunity to address it,” Redway said. “The issue is when.”

The board agreed that having a historical inventory and eventual historical district would behoove the town for educational reasons. They also agreed the issue is not time sensitive.

“I don’t think anyone’s dead set against it, but I think the feeling is that this could just add more problems to what we’ve got,” said committee member John Bell. “I’ve got a feeling if we propose historic districts on top of everything else that’s being proposed it’s going to be one more thing to muddy up the waters and get people worked up against.”

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