Architectural Controls Tightened Up
Twenty years ago Hudson had no regulations regarding the protection of its heritage buildings and the preservation of its character. A number of old buildings were torn down and what many consider inappropriate replacements or additions were sometimes built. The situation came to a head with the demolition of the old "Piper" residence near St. James Church and its replacement with the large, stone twin-peaked house. The controversy at the time was that we should not be demolishing perfectly good old houses. The original demolition bylaw was passed and a committee on architectural control was set up.
Today the town is much more concerned about its character and it also has the tools to make its concerns stick. Although not yet played out, the story of the Lavigne house at the west end of town is an example. While the bylaw has been around for some time now, the new changes try to make it do more to keep the architectural character of Hudson as uniform as it is now. It will try to prevent new houses of different styles being plunked down in the middle of an existing neighbourhood.
To do this, the bylaw covers new construction and additions and deals with overall design parameters such as height and location but also with details such as doors, shutters and colours. The town insists that the purpose of the law is not to limit choice for residents but rather to ensure harmony. Some residents have however been concerned from the beginning that limiting their choice in order to preserve harmony is exactly what is being done. All support certain limitations but fear that the enthusiasm for regulation will take the town to far.
To date, there has been no heavy-handed public application of the bylaw. A similar law regarding commercial signs has had public disagreements about its application but residents are much more likely to support limitations on commercial expression than limitations on private preferences. There is also concern about the lay character of the committee advising the town on the changes. Other towns have architects advising them on such matters and, while the committee members are all knowledgeable about their community, some professional guidance would give the bylaw more legitimacy.
Proposed changes in the bylaw are to be made public shortly. More than a lot of other town decisions, these can affect what residents can do with their properties and what kind of community they will live in.