An innocuous question from a new preservation commission member has revealed that Southold Town’s map excludes dozens of properties in the Orient Historic District.
Members of the town’s Historic Preservation Commission on Tuesday told the Southold Town Board that the 60-acre district — which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 — had improperly drawn boundaries on its map, excluding at least 50 homes they said should be included among the 150 currently in the district.
The commission said the discrepancy came to light recently, when new member Edward Webb asked what the district’s boundaries were.
Commission vice president Anne Surchin said the majority of the properties are homes, and that the 150 already in the district are predominantly homes but include a post office, several stores and other structures.
Surchin said the group is not sure when or how the mistake was made, but asked the town board to include the unlisted properties in the district because of concern about potential future renovations the homes may undergo.
“We would like to make sure that they don’t do something that is so grossly out of keeping with the entire area,” Surchin said, referring to the homes’ owners.
The town board asked the commission to reach out to the unlisted property owners about being included in the district. Town Councilman Jim Dinizio said he was concerned some property owners might be reluctant due to the restrictions regarding renovations to properties in historic districts.
“[Being in a historic district] does increase their [property] value, but it encumbers them to a certain degree,” said Dinizio. “They should at least have the option to choose.”
Webb said the residents he spoke to in the historic district agreed about the home valuation and also view the location as an advantage.
“I think we have to be respectful of the people who might be under the impression that they’re not living in a historic district, but most people moving into the village know they’re moving into a historic district,” Webb said. “In fact, they see it as a plus.”
Commission member Robert Harper said the group would discuss the proposal further, but would like to see the properties added to the list soon.