Rules that set standards for how buildings should look in one Vermont village are once again at the center of a long-running debate.
The picturesque village of Woodstock is famous for its inn, its green, its retail and dining district, and nearby activities like sleigh rides, skiing, and golf.
However, the shutters on its homes and buildings have also been a topic of conversation recently.
Most people see little or no practical use for shutters in 2017, but the tools that once helped protect homes, filter sun, and control air flow are back in the spotlight here.
“I love them; I think they add this very adorable charm,” said Kristen Kelly, who was visiting Woodstock Friday from Houston, Texas. “You don’t notice them, but if you took them away, you would notice.”
“I just don't think it's going to change the beautiful complexion of this town if there's no shutters on a home,” countered Nancy Stewart of Londonderry, New Hampshire, who was also visiting Woodstock.
Some residents have complained the village's zoning rules requiring shutters are erratically enforced and that shutters themselves are a real pain to maintain.
Village leaders, meanwhile, insist the touches are critical to preserving New England charm, the very quality that makes Woodstock such a destination.
“The wedding business, the tourism, the visitors, they come here for a reason,” said Beth Finlayson of the Woodstock Area Chamber of Commerce. “And aesthetics is part of the reason.”
The owner of one shutterless home, near the edge of the village, told necn he would be installing shutters in 2017.
Bill Bawden said he took his request to not add shutters all the way to Vermont environmental court, which told him, yes, he does need to install shutters to comply with village zoning rules.
“There's inconsistencies in the village,” Bawden said Friday of the appearance of some buildings downtown. “I think our house looks more attractive without the shutters.”
Still, Bawden said it is important for him to be a good neighbor, so he chose to not appeal the ruling further, and will follow the ordinance.
The town planner, Michael Brands, called it important to enforce Woodstock’s village zoning rules, warning that once a place's character is gone, it's often gone forever.