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Letter to the editor

Historic District serves city well

October 20, 2010 - Dear Editor,

I read with interest the article "Homeowners fight historic commission in restoration project," Oct. 6.

Living in a historic district is a positive experience. We moved here because we love the historic look and atmosphere of Main Street and the rest of the Village.

A portion of the city is a Nationally Registered Historic District, required to follow the U.S. Secretary of the Interior's standards for rehabilitation and guidelines for rehabilitating historic buildings. They protect our heritage by making sure owners use traditional materials like stone, wood, brick, and stucco.

Projects that dramatically alter the look of the streetscape are not allowed. This makes sure that someone doesn't buy the house next to you, tear it down, and build something that resembles an airplane hangar or a California beach house.

The buildings are important. Owners come and go, but their alterations remain and their neighbors and future generations have to live with them. Once an architectural feature is removed or a building torn down, it is gone forever.

I served on the Clarkston Historic District Commission for eight years. In that time, we never had an owner who was "surprised" to find they just bought a house or commercial building in the Historic District.

We never had an owner have to appeal a decision to the Michigan State Historic Preservation Review Board. Projects were always well planned in advance or they were modified to the satisfaction of the owner and the Historic District Commission.

Clarkston's most valuable heritage is its buildings. Preserving them will allow this to continue to be the place people want to live, do business, walk, bike, and hold their special events.

Les Haight


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