Portsmouth NH Historic District Commission Meeting
Prof. Iymen Chehade
September 16, 2014
I chose to watch a historic district commission meeting from the city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire from August 13, 2014 because I couldn’t get to anything in person this week and I thought this would be an interesting meeting to listen to since our historical buildings down town are under so much scrutiny all the time. The HDC serves to safeguard the architectural heritage of the Town. Preserve elements of the community’s architectural, cultural, social, economic and political history. Conserve property values. Foster civic pride. Promote the use of the historic districts for the education, pleasure and welfare of the citizens of Portsmouth. It is a seven member commission with 2 alternates. As I first watched I noticed the room was very simple with grey walls and the state symbol in the back behind the board. Also the state flag and some other flags that I couldn’t tell what they were, were also in the room. At first the board sat in the chairs on the upper level in red cushions and then later in the meeting moved down to a lower table with chairs around it for the work session meetings. Then behind the table were chairs lined up for the public to come and sit down and listen to the meeting and there was a podium that they could come and give their opinion on the topics being discussed. Most of the commissioners were dressed in business casual and one was dressed in a suit. Everyone seemed to be pretty relaxed and ready to get to the job at hand. There was not a lot of public attending I noticed also. As the meeting started the Chairman in charge Joseph Almeida introduced everyone on the board and then they started the meeting with a recall for a work session to be postponed but was immediately dismissed. Then they called up a woman who was sick from the last week and an assistant had come in to pass the information through but did not get everything past the way she needed to and the woman in charge had to come back to get approval for the new windows being put in one of the historic buildings downtown. There were a few more people that came in through the meeting that talked about the windows and the materials that were required to show that it had to be kept in style of the history of the building. As the meeting progressed there was some confliction about the windows and the materials and what the procedure is to get the applications passed. After about forty-five minutes the board moved down to the table and started doing the work sessions. Two woman came up with posters of the ideas they have about a residential area on Islington Street. They are working on some townhomes in the historic block and because of this they have to bring everything to the board for approval. I was in shock with how much everything mattered from the height of the buildings to how far from the road they are and where the garages are located so that you can’t see just cars from the windows. It was pretty cool watching the commissioner’s talk about the building and the need to keep the respect for the generation that the building came from. I drive down this street every week and I honestly never really thought about the importance of the history until watching this. Although I think that the board can be a bit too picky on things that really probably don’t matter in 2014. I think they did a great job getting their views across in a professional manner. Some of the neighbors came and gave their approvals and disapprovals for the new buildings also. I liked seeing the neighbors getting involved I think they should do that in situations like these so their voices are heard. I think this meeting shows how people in the government can come together like they did for the Constitution and decide on in this case important ways of keeping our town in the modern world while also...
References: Historic District Commission 8.13.14. (n.d.). Retrieved September 13, 2014, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGczPnWmOeI
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