LETTER: Citizens Group Opposes Regulations on Watertown Homes


To the Editor,

“I don’t want anyone telling me where to plant my roses”.

That was the parting message John Labadini, President of the newly-established Concerned Watertown Homeowners Association at the end of a public meeting at the Library last Thursday evening. That meeting was arranged to acquaint Watertown residents of a new initiative being pursued by the Town’s Planning and Development office. The Department is drafting proposed Residential Guideline regulations setting design standards for the appearance of our homes and for owners who want to, or need to, tear down and replace an existing structure. The Association feels that property designs are ownership property rights, not the Town’s. Watertown’s government and its personnel shouldn’t be involved in design issues, period – as long as projects comply with zoning.

The principles involved in opposing any regulations are the same for both homeowners and those seeking a tear-down. For convenience of most readers, I will focus most of what follows for details of issues facing homeowners. Owners seeking a tear-down should log onto our web site: http://watertownpropertyrights.org/

Regulations for homeowners will affect each and every owner who wants to repair or renovate the exterior of his or her home. Presently, owners must comply with the Town’s Building, Zoning and Public Works Department regulations and ordinances, but STYLES of the changes are not regulated. Our personal tastes are ALLOWED as part of our rights of home ownership. Changes anticipated in the new regulations are not allowed by those rights but will be determined by the Town, or even your neighbor, if they are not “in keeping with the neighborhood aesthetic” – in other words, their SUBJECTIVE tastes, not yours. At worst, you could be forced to abandon your plans entirely.

For example, today you can paint your home any color scheme without receiving approval. Similarly, you can now re-roof with shingles of your choice, re-landscape your yard, install: replacement windows or a new picture window, a front door, new storm windows, or vinyl siding, or repair your chimney, If the new standards are adopted, each of these changes will be subject to new regulations and will require approval by the Town before you can proceed. And you will likely have to defend yourselves in public hearings.

How the Department will review proposed changes – whether by new Department staff or a new Board – has not been disclosed. Indeed, the Department has disclosed practically NOTHING about the new initiative except the categories of a homeowner’s property to be covered. There are nine categories including:  the building itself, its siting, parking, architectural style, roof form, façade, porches and doors, siding, windows, plants and other landscaping.

The Guidelines that relate to tear-downs will pertain to a small number of buildings in Watertown annually whose owners want to, or need to tear them down. And, tear-downs are a controversial subject whose complexities can’t easily be summarized in this letter. Suffice to say, the Concerned Citizens Association believes design issues here should be governed by the same principles stated above.

In all cases, we believe an open dialogue should take place with Watertown residents and Town officials BEFORE guidelines are formulated. In other words: before the fact rather than after. Our next meeting will be May 12, 2016. For more information, log onto our web site: http://watertownpropertyrights.org/, or Facebook and Twitter.

Don’t give the Town the right to tell you where to plant your roses!


Michael Donham
Royal Street, Watertown

2 thoughts on “LETTER: Citizens Group Opposes Regulations on Watertown Homes

  1. This is part of the message from Dan.
    “I hope that doesn’t go through!!! What’s next, they tell us what we can and can’t wear for clothing!! Anything to get our money!! If they want to make people happy, lower our taxes!!”

    The rest was removed due to inappropriate language. NO SWEARING!


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