NH citizens support homeowners’ right to rebuild rather than repair

Jun 06, 2015

In the historic district of New Castle, a debate has begun as to whether property owners David Murphy and Christine Strong have the right to rebuild a mid-18th century home rather than repair it. In response to the controversy, the Live Free or Die Alliance asked Facebook members, “Do you believe private homeowners have the right to rebuild rather than repair structures in historic districts?” 

A total of 88% of respondents answered the question directly or with a concurrence, and of these a 72% majority expressed support for the idea that homeowners have the right to rebuild rather than repair with 28% against it. Of the remaining respondents, 10% opted to discuss the subject in broader terms while 2% commented on unrelated issues. In sum, 215 citizens participated in the discussion with a total of 443 responses. 

For respondents of the majority opinion, several questioned the practicality in having to repair historical structures. Remarked one respondent, “How realistic is it that new owners should keep repairing the same weathered down structures? Honestly, it really isn't safe, let alone cost effective.” Others agreed, including one woman who added, “Some houses are just beyond saving and not everyone has the money to do the repairs versus building new, which is so much more efficient and can be built identical to the old property.”

Most respondents who expressed support for the Historic District Commission’s position, however, said these homeowners understood what could and could not take place. One woman noted, “When people buy in historic districts, the restrictions are spelled out in advance. They knew the restrictions and are now trying to bypass them.” Added another respondent, “The people know they bought in an historic district and knew the laws involved with buying in that area.”

For those who did not provide a direct “yes” or “no” to the question, several rhetorically questioned what the cost of repairs would be versus replacing the structure. One respondent reasoned, “If historical preservation means not making homes safe and livable, they should be a museum—not sold as a residence.”

Click here to read the full Facebook discussion of this question. 

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