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October 15, 2012

Making a push for preservation

Eigerman believes demolishing history is not a right

Editor’s Note: As the discussion over a proposed Local Historic District in Newburyport continues through the fall and makes its way to the City Council for final review, The Daily News is profiling several of the principals involved on both sides of the debate.

The following is a look at Jared Eigerman, who heads a group favoring passage of a Local Historic District.

NEWBURYPORT — Jared Eigerman heads the Citizens for Historic Newburyport, a group that supports a Local Historic District, and it can’t be said he comes to the volunteer position without credentials.

A real estate lawyer with hands-on experience in San Francisco and Boston, Eigerman has been a speaker, author and moderator on zoning and land-use issues.

Much of his experience has been representing private property owners in securing necessary government approvals at the federal, state and local levels.

Eigerman, a native of Newburyport who returned to the city after about a decade in San Francisco, said he got involved in the LHD debate because mailings from opponents “were full of obvious misinformation.”

“Boiled down, the (proposed) LHD ordinance just protects pre-1931 building facades visible from the street, by requiring review before you can change it in a major way,” he said. “Ninety percent of what people do with their property, including 100 percent of things inside, is exempt.

“But sadly, the misinformation from months ago persists.”

Eigerman recently argued before the City Council that preservation is an economic issue as much as an appreciation of the past, suggesting that the value of local real estate will be enhanced by preserving assets from the past.

The Local Historic District Study Committee recently sent its final report with a proposed ordinance creating an LHD to the City Council. The council assigned it to the Planning and Development Committee, which, with the Council of the Whole, will host a public meeting on Thursday, Oct. 25, at City Hall. If voted out of committee, the proposed ordinance will be the subject of public hearings before the full City Council.

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