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Nelson establishes historic structures survey and registry

— The Nelson Town Board last week approved a resolution to establish a historic resources survey and registry, the purpose of which is to not only help recognize and preserve historic properties, sites and areas in the town but will also allow designated properties to receive certain code exemptions during renovations and repairs.

The issue of the registry was previously discussed by the board at its February regular meeting when local investor Nancy Demyttenaere, who purchased the MacKinnon house at the Nelson four corners with a plan to open both a nanobrewery and coffee roaster business there, asked the board to designate the house as historically significant, which would then allow her to apply for a code exemption allowed to buildings of historic significance.

Demyttenaere, who has worked in the state historic preservation agency for the past 35 years, said without the exemption so many renovations and changes would have to be made to the building as to completely destroy the building’s historical integrity, as well as make such renovations economically unfeasible.

Town Supervisor Roger Bradstreet said at that meeting that the town completed a survey of historically significant structures in 2002, and the board discussed whether they could use that registry — which includes the MacKinnon house — to declare the building historically significant. This led to a broader discussion of how such a registry could help preserve all such significant properties in the town and possibly help those properties be renovated and re-used, which would benefit the community as a whole.

Town Attorney Jim Stokes did some research on the issue and wrote a resolution for the board to discuss at a later date.

During the board’s April 10 regular monthly meeting, the proposed resolution establishing the survey and registry was presented and discussed. The resolution declared it “a matter of public policy that the recognition, protection, enhancement and perpetuation of landmarks and historic properties and sites is important and necessary to promote the economic, cultural, educational and general welfare of the town of Nelson and its residents.” The registry would provide a “permanent record” of such historically significant structures and will provide a “basis and support” for decisions on future repair, renovations, rehabilitations and re-use of the included properties.

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