If stones go missing, that’s another story.
The state’s General Court drafted a law back in 1791 to protect stones against theft. Those rules carried on for generations, with an updated version signed into law in 2009. If caught, people stealing stones will be fined, from an original $15 noted in an earlier version to three times the cost of restoring the damaged wall, plus legal costs.
Although Derry doesn’t have stone wall rules as part of its town ordinance, planning director George Sioras said the town has worked well with developers to maintain valuable walls when they are part of a proposed project.
“We’ve been very fortunate and lucky,” Sioras said. “We’ve worked with developers to maintain the character (of the stone walls) and the charm.”
Sioras said there are official scenic roadways in Derry that do have tighter restrictions when it comes to stone walls and what can be done.
Many area residents want stone walls to remain whenever possible.
“I view the stone walls around my property as almost sacred,” Chester resident Mike Corey said. “I think about the work that went into building them. I come away with a great feeling of responsibility to preserve, hesitating to even borrow a stone from the walls running through the middle of my land.”
Londonderry resident Kathy Wagner said stone walls add beauty and character to the town — and should be protected at all costs.
“They need to be protected because they represent our farming history, and the show the hard work our earlier settlers did,” Wagner said. “It is hard to believe that these walls were all made by hand and all these rocks came out of the soil. Have you ever noticed the patina of the rocks? You just cannot get that look out of new rocks.”