At this week’s Berlin Town Council meeting there was an amount of ire, some of it deserved, directed at Gee Williams for his decision to ignore calls to force the Atlantic Hotel ownership to tear out the windows installed without the permission of the historic district commission. The question isn’t whether Williams overstepped his bounds, he did. He also said as much during the meeting.
Contrary to what Councilwoman Lisa Hall and several other commenters said, the hotel windows, not the mayor are what is at issue; losing focus of this important point is a recipe for continued anger and disaffection.
The controversy settles simply on the fact that the historic commission felt that excusing the unapproved remolding was beyond their authority. To be clear, they didn’t really decide against the improvement so much as they blamed their decision on state rules.
Williams said from the beginning he hoped that this could foster a conversation about the application of historic district rules among the historic district commission, a supposition that was also an error in his calculation. Instead the conversation is about how to make Williams force the hotel to tear out the windows.
Rather than continue to emphasize a sense of outrage and strengthen the impasse, the historic commission should at least begin to investigate whether a slight alteration in policy might better serve the town than continuing to attempt to undo a transgression which, at this point, serves no one.