This is a printer-friendly version of an article from Zip06.com.Article Published February 3, 2021
There is an effort underway to save the corn crib and a historic house on East Main Street from demolition. An online petition is urging the developer, who has submitted an application to build 32 apartments at 151-153 East Main Street, to keep the historic structures and incorporate them into the plans.
The Clinton Planning & Zoning Commission (PZC) will hold a public hearing on the application on Monday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m.
Per an application on file in the land use office, the proposed apartments will be called Sterling Sands Condominiums and would be built on two parcels on East Main Street, located on about seven acres on the north side of Route One. The owner and applicant for the property is Resync Property Solutions.
Under the current proposal a house built in the 1800s and a shed colloquially known as The Corn Crib, both of which are on the National Register of Historic places, will be demolished.
In response to the application, Clinton citizen Peggy Adler decided to start an online petition on Change.org that asks the developer to find a way to incorporate the two historic structures into the development. At press time, Adler’s petition has been signed over 700 times, but not every signee is from Clinton. Adler included a link to photos of the inside of the house, which appear to show it to be in good condition, in response to questions raised on social media.
Speaking with the Harbor News, Adler confirmed she is not against the development, just the demolition of the historic buildings. Clinton Building Inspector Ed Smith said that as of Jan. 27, no demolition permits have been filed yet for the house or corn crib.
Jay Kurup is the applicant listed on the application and confirmed to the Harbor News that he was made aware of Adler’s petition.
“I invested in this property in Clinton and am committed to bringing new energy and tax base to the community. I think the community will be pleased with the project when it is complete. However, I fully support the right of people to speak out on issues and hope they appreciate my investment in the community!” Kurup wrote in an email to the Harbor News.
While most people in Clinton speak in favor of bringing development to town, conflict over applications for major development projects in Clinton is nothing new. Nor is it unusual for the historic nature of a potential development site to come up during public hearings.
Clinton was founded more than 350 years ago and a substantial number of structures that have some historic significance are still around, and periodically that historic status can complicate development plans. For example, four years ago a controversial application to build the current CVS location stirred up anger from some groups in town because that application led to the demolition of historic buildings that were on that property.
Over the years some residents have also expressed doubts about the value of every historic house in town and have argued that there are safety and monetary risks associated with keeping the houses standing if they aren’t in good shape. Other residents have argued that the vocal opposition to developments actually harms the town and could dissuade potential developers from investing in the town.
On the other hand, some say that development should be done in way that preserves historic structures as much as possible to enhance the character of the town.
“When I talk to people from other parts of the United States and I say I’m from Clinton, they say ‘Oh Clinton Crossings’ and I think it’d be great if they knew us our historic places, too,” Adler said.
To Adler, the preservation of the many historic structures in town adds to the ambiance of Clinton, which separates it from other communities.
“It gives the town the feeling of being in Sturbridge Village, without being a tourist Mecca.” Adler said.
Ultimately, it will be up to Kurup to determine what happens to the property, a stance that Clinton Historical Society President Christy Pontillo backed earlier in 2021.
“You can’t tell them what to do with their property as long as it’s all legal,” Pontillo said at the time. He also added that while he would like to see the houses preserved, “we don’t have the money to buy and maintain all the houses.”
When the PZC holds the public hearing, which will be conducted virtually via Zoom, the public will be able to speak in favor of, against, or make other comments about the application. A link to the meeting will be posted in the agenda of the PZC meeting on the town website.
The applicant may make a more detailed presentation about the proposal and may respond to questions from the commission members. If the commission members feel they have received enough information, they may vote to close the public hearings or may continue it to a later date. Once a public hearing is closed, the application is eligible for decision.