The time has come for the Schenectady Historic District Commission to make a decision on whether Stockade homeowner Meredith Anker can raise her home and move it out of the 100-year flood plain.
This week marked the fourth time the commission has tabled a decision on the project, citing a need for more information and feedback from the state Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation.
Anker is asking for permission to do something never done before, so it makes sense that the commission would take a little time to study the project rather than rush it through. But at some point the process must draw to a close.
And while it’s nice to see the commissioners ask tough questions and discuss the need for a comprehensive study of flooding in the Stockade, the group has had plenty of time to consult with outside experts and research the matter.
If there are questions the commissioners feel still remain unanswered, they need to go out and get answers ASAP.
The city should have done a comprehensive study of flooding in the Stockade in the aftermath of the destructive fl ooding caused by tropical storms Irene and Lee.
But the commission shouldn’t let the city’s failure to assess the risk of flooding in the Stockade or plan for its future distract from the issue at hand.
Anker has submitted a completed application and seems to have made every effort to answer the commission’s questions.
The group either needs to approve her application, so that she can move forward with the project, or deny it, so she can put her house on the market or move on.
Right now, it would appear the commission is stymied by the higher-than-usual stakes and lack of precedent. The more members wring their hands and whine about how they’ve never before dealt with a request of this nature, the more they risk looking like they are simply trying to avoid making a tough decision.
In fairness, the Schenectady Historic District Commission doesn’t have any experience hearing and reviewing requests to move and raise historic homes.
The reason for this is simple: Anker is the first resident of a state historic district to make such a request and commissioners are concerned that if her application is successful, more will follow suit. Given that the outcome of Anker’s case could set a precedent for raising historic homes throughout the state, it’s worth asking if a state agency should be tasked with considering such requests.
That said, it is the responsibility of the Schenectady Historic District Commission to make a decision regarding Anker’s application.
And while the way forward might not seem easy or clear, to continue delaying and postponing represents a shirking of responsibility.
The time for action has come.