Historic commission stands by its decision

To The Editor:

The Milford Historic District Commission recently received and acted upon an application to demolish the Sanford/Bristol house located within its boundaries at 111-113 North Street. During the course of the two extensive public meetings it held, the commission was presented with testimony from the applicant, as well as his architect and professional engineer regarding the current condition and renovation prospects for this historic structure.

It also listened carefully to the neighbors and other interested parties who spoke both for and against the application. In addition, it arranged for and conducted a site visit to enable each commission member, and anyone else who was interested, to personally view the property. Finally, to ensure the thoroughness and accuracy of the commission's deliberations, it retained its own highly qualified engineer to provide an independent opinion as to its structural integrity and safety.

Two of those interested parties have chosen to disagree with the commission's final determination to authorize demolition. That certainly is their right. What is disturbing, however, is their ad hominem attacks on the individual members of the commission — accusing them of “abdicating their trust and responsibility” and suggesting that the commission has “forgotten why they formed this commission in the first place.”

Both letter writers spoke during our meetings; they were given all of the time they requested to make their case. Neither came to our published site visit and neither came to our second meeting when the commission's engineer's report was distributed. On the face of it, it would appear that neither was willing to have their pre-established opinions contradicted by plain facts and professionally qualified judgments.

This commission is statutorily charged to respect the rule of law — to allow for the full airing of facts and to apply them to the standards, which the Connecticut legislature and Milford's ordinance prescribe. We all have personal opinions; unlike our critics, as commission members who have a sworn duty to follow the law, we put them aside to protect our community — not to advance our personal agendas. We will truly miss the presence of the Sanford/Bristol house in our neighborhood; we regret the 30-plus years of neglect by prior owners which mandated our decision. We will not, however, allow unjustified accusations to force us to make politically expedient decisions.

Arthur W. Stowe

Milly V. Beyer

John W. O'Neil

Suzanne M. Whittaker

Linda B. Stephenson

John Carissimi

Robert L. Berchem, Chairman