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.
A super-majority of the City Council (eight votes of the full 11 members) is required for the measure to pass.
Eigerman has been a leading force in pushing for passage.
He was born at Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport and spent his formative years on Fair Street. He lived in Cambridge for a time, and then was a boarding student at Milton Academy in Milton. After graduating from Harvard University, he studied at the University of California at Berkeley, earning degrees in law and city planning.
He spent several years working for the city of San Francisco, where he litigated environmental, eminent domain and inverse condemnation actions.
He has been with several firms since his municipal experience in San Francisco, and currently is a partner with the Andover law practice Dalton and Finegold.
One reason he returned to Newburyport was to escape the local politics and difficulty of “building anything” in San Francisco. Another was that he and his wife were starting a family, and they wanted to do it in this community.
The High Street resident said the fact that Newburyport has no regulation to stop demolition of historic buildings is “shocking.” Presently, all that can be required is a one-year waiting period.
“(Developer) Steve Karp is a smart and successful guy who must have seen something when he invested heavily in Newburyport,” Eigerman said. “However, neither he nor a homeowner on High Street has a ‘right’ to demolish our historic buildings. That’s got to be fundamental.”
Eigerman, who has worked closely with Stephanie Niketic in leading Citizens for a Historic Newburyport, recently encouraged proponents to put lawn signs favoring the LHD back up on their properties after Mayor Donna Holaday requested they be taken down in late summer. Opponents had kept up their placards.
In bringing back the pro-LHD signs, Eigerman said his team is acknowledging that the debate over the proposed ordinance is continuing and his side is not backing down.
Eigerman and his organization are resolute in the belief that the city should embrace tighter architectural guidelines.
“Right now, we have little regulation in place to handle inevitable changes that come with a strong real estate market,” he said.