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North Amherst Historic District Study Committee being formed

AMHERST — If portions of North Amherst are to become the town’s second local historic district, those who will study the concept will mostly come from its neighborhoods.

Though the state law governing the creation of new local historic districts requires the existing Dickinson Local Historic District Commission to act as the study committee, Select Board member James Wald said the commission would like to have a separate committee involving mostly people from North Amherst.

“It makes sense to cast the net as widely as possible,” Wald said.

Wald said the commission is expected to formally vote at its April 1 meeting to hand the study work off to a new group.

Select Board member Alisa Brewer said the board is already soliciting representatives for the committee, which will include people nominated by the Amherst Historical Society.

In addition, Associate Planner Nathaniel Malloy is reaching out to regional architects, real estate agents and other professionals who may want to be involved.

The first local historical district was established at annual Town Meeting last year. The Dickinson commission will be reviewing any proposed projects within its area, including properties along Main, Lessey and Triangle streets.

The Select Board and Historical Commission in the fall gave their support to the creation of a study committee at the urging of residents in North Amherst.

Janet Keller, of Pulpit Hill Road, said that two national historic districts already exist in the northern part of town, one being North Amherst Center, the other Cushman Village.

Keller said her experience living in Providence, R.I., shows that local historic districts can improve neighborhoods.

“Preserving historic resources gives us the foundation for greater economic and environmental sustainability,” Keller said. “Historic districts draw tourists and new residents.”

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