Cheshire historic commission accepts chair’s resignation ‘with great regret’ after Town Council vote to raze farmhouse

Cheshire historic commission accepts chair’s resignation ‘with great regret’ after Town Council vote to raze farmhouse


CHESHIRE — The Historic District Commission is without a leader following the resignation of Chairwoman Betsy Fox over the Stephen Ives house demolition.

The Town Council voted unanimously to allow the demolition of the house, which members said would have required costly remediation and for which there was no planned use. Before a referendum last year, town officials said the property could be used for the relocation of parking and playing fields next to the high school, alleviating traffic on Route 10. No plans have been approved for the land but councilors had the concept in mind when discussing the future of the house. Town residents approved the purchase of the land adjacent to Bartlem Park on Route 10 last year for $3 million.

Fox had strongly opposed the demolition, saying the Victorian-era farmhouse could be used for storage or meeting spaces and should be preserved as part of Cheshire’s agricultural history. She resigned from the Historic District Commission, saying she couldn’t work with a council that ignored preservation.

On Monday, the commission tabled the appointment of a new chairman since there were only three of the five members.

Joseph Dattilo, vice chairman of the commission, accepted Fox’s resignation at the meeting.

“It’s with great regret that we have to even accept this,” he said. “She did her job very well. I have to accept it with great regret.”

He and other members agreed to postpone the vote on a new chairman.

“We really would like to have all of our members here,” said James Vibert, the commission clerk.

The commission has had resignations before over contentious issues. In 2011, Eric Anderson, a founding member of the commission, said he’d stop going to meetings after losing a fight over the preservation of the Keeler property on South Main Street.

A majority of the commission voted in favor of an application by developer Paul Bowman, now the Town Council vice chairman, who had renovation plans for the house. Bowman demolished the stove shop, saying it was beyond repair.

Anderson disagreed with the commission’s decision, saying the developer should have been required to save both buildings and preserve rather than renovate them.

Fox was a commission member at the time and voted for Bowman’s plans. 203-317-2230 Twitter: @JBuchananRJ

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