My family moved to Westfield in 2011 first and foremost for its historic charm. I was drawn to Westfield because it reminded me of where I grew up, Larchmont, NY. The village of Larchmont is known for its historic homes and strong preservation efforts.
My husband and I looked only at homes that were built around 1930 or before, and we had many to choose from. We ultimately bought a home in Stoneleigh Park, a street that is designated nationally and by the state, but sadly is not locally designated, leaving it vulnerable to tear downs.
Alarmingly, we have watched the epidemic of tear downs in town and the subsequent new builds. Since I’ve moved into town, there have been over 300 teardowns. Friends who live in surrounding towns tell me that Westfield is becoming known as a "town of teardowns.”
Larchmont, a NYC suburb that in many ways is similar to Westfield — beautiful historic homes with tree- lined streets and a vibrant downtown -- had some tear down issues. However, with stronger ordinances, an architectural review board and effective grass roots campaigns, many homes have been saved and they turned the tide before it was too late.
That’s why I support the HPC Ordinance that was introduced at the Town Council last week. We have zoning laws for a reason, or many reasons actually. Prime among them is to preserve the “character” of a community. While the revised HPC ordinance does not dictate that a homeowner or neighborhood become historic, it does strike the right balance between protecting its past and planning for its future, by preserving much of what makes Westfield such a special place to live and raise a family.
I believe this ordinance will give Westfield the protection to save its charm and to promote greater discussion before a historic home is torn down and lost forever.