First Parish Seeks Reversal of HDC Ruling

Submitted by First Parish in Bedford, Unitarian Universalist

First Parish in Bedford’s statement to the press

First Parish on Bedford Common - Courtesy image (c) all rights reserved
First Parish on Bedford Common – Courtesy image (c) all rights reserved

On June 27, 2016, First Parish in Bedford reluctantly filed a complaint in Middlesex Superior Court, appealing the Historic District Commission’s denial of a certificate of appropriateness for the proposed installation of Solar Panels on portions of the First Parish Meetinghouse roof.  First Parish has also filed an Open Meeting Law complaint with the HDC.  Both complaints were filed to comply with the applicable statutory deadlines.

The Solar Panel project was designed so as to preserve the iconic view of the First Parish Meetinghouse.

First Parish regrets that it was necessary to file both complaints, and values its relationship with the Town of Bedford.  Its goal is merely to install solar panels to reduce its carbon footprint in furtherance of its commitment to the Seventh Principle of Unitarian Universalist belief – respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.  First Parish is committed to pursuing all of its legal rights to achieve this goal.

Reverend John Gibbons, Senior Minister of First Parish, explained his support for the appeal:  “Although First Parish is Bedford’s oldest house of worship, we are a living institution that must remain relevant to the present and be accountable to the unprecedented environmental demands of the future.  Solar panels are an essential expression of our faith, to honor ‘the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.’  With solar panels, our cherished 200-year old Meetinghouse will live in harmony with nature and history.”

The Boston-based law firm of Sherin and Lodgen and First Parish member Rebecca Green Neale are representing First Parish.

Additional inquiries can be made to First Parish in Bedford spokesperson, Dan Bostwick at [email protected]

Editor’s Note: To learn more about this issue, read the following articles:

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July 10, 2016 10:57 am

The purpose of the Historic District is to preserve the exterior of our historic structures just as they were. The HDC decision was consistent with the intent of this law and past decisions where details including the exterior color of a historic building is regulated. If this decision is overturned I fear that it will establish a precedent that could destroy the whole intent of this law. The Unitarian Church could achieve their green energy goals in many other ways such as purchasing green energy from a third party supplier. I hope they reconsider this.

Chris Weisz
July 5, 2016 7:29 pm

Why was my letter stating why my decision was made not also referenced? As a member of the board and the rejecting party, accused of violating the open meeting laws I might add, I think my letter is much more relevant than the pair of pro letters cited.

July 10, 2016 1:45 pm
Reply to  Chris Weisz


With apologies: I missed adding your letter to the string following FPB’s press release. Today’s summary acknowledges my recently discovered error and includes a link to the original post where your letter appeared. The link has also been added to the story.

BTW: I missed being able to tell you this in person at Thursday’s CATV meeting, and then ‘life’ intervened with all the national difficulties on Friday morning.



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