How to pick a Preservation Easement ‘Enforcer’

Different strokes for different folks!

No one size fits all!

Okay, you get the message – you need to decide what is important for you to protect.      Are you a mildly interested historic preservationist?     Are you a serious architectural preservationist?     Or, are you a rabid historic preservationist?       

Basically, you want an enforcer who comes and makes sure you are complying with the conditions of the easements.      If you’ve bought a house with an easement, you are obligated by your agreeing to purchase the house that you will comply with the restrictions.

Either way, you will receive penalties in legal action if you don’t comply.      Figuratively speaking, they will drag you out in the street and beat you with clubs.      And because of the special tax status of your house, the MDOR and the IRS will start beating you with clubs right after the enforcer has let up.

So don’t be cavalier about compliance.

So the question is, how far do you want to go?      Many people thoroughly love to live in an historical home just as long as the interior looks like something out of suburbia.     They want modern drywall, fancy modern kitchens and glitzy bathrooms and all the conveniences money can buy and technology can provide.      And oh yes, 90 degree angles and flat surfaces.    

My suggestion for these type of homeowners is the Newburyport Historical Commission.      They have an easement fee that basically goes into the City’s general fund and is ‘lost’. (Let’s be truthful about it, okay.)    They’re enforcement basically is getting into their car and taking a slight detour on their way to their  day job and checking your house out visually.          You’re only concern is some dark sider in the future getting a hold of the easement and losing it.     Then all that hard work making your home look great will go down the drain!     Hopefully watch guards like the Newburyport Preservation Trust will be diligent enough to prevent that from happening.

Another enforcer to consider is Mass Historic.      Now these guys probably won’t even consider your house unless something historically important occurred there.     Unless George Washington left his soiled underwear in the bedroom, the chances are it will get very difficult and very expensive convincing them to even agree to the easement.       These days, with “0” budgeting from Deval Patrick, they most likely are not in the mood.   The constant additions through CPA are definitely making them crabby.

Another good enforcer if you wish to preserve the house in various degrees of interior  is the National Architectural Trust – these guys like to focus on architectural features like masonry, moldings, doors, windows, support frames, etc.     They’re big in making sure the building’s main architectural theme is preserved.    And the cost is going to be high.        They are regional so it costs them money just to come to Newburyport for a visit.

Finally, if you are a rabid Historic Preservationist, there is Historic New England.     If you love the interior moldings, the wide-plank floors, the plaster walls and a whole host of interior features, these are the people to check out.      And they carry a BIG CLUB.      Which is great if you are worried about future owners despoiling the house.       They have the professional expertise, they have the resources and they have the muscle to wield the big club.      

Now, there is a final choice.      The Preservation Trust.       They have been granted the ability to hold easements.      But they have no paid staff.     They have no division dedicated to enforcement – in fact, they don’t even have a physical place to keep records.        The question to ask is, “Who will be the first homeowner to have a Newburyport Preservation Trust Easement?”

Like the question to ask when a surgeon is fresh out of medical college, “Who wants to be his first patient?”

-P. Preservationist

This entry was posted in Conservation, Easements, Economics, Health and wellness, Heritage Tourism, Organizations, Preservation, Preservation History, Restoration, Taxes. Bookmark the permalink.

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