NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

April 17, 2014

Mayor signs historic protection laws

NEWBURYPORT — Mayor Donna Holaday yesterday signed a measure unanimously passed by the City Council Tuesday night calling for new zoning amendments relating to historic preservation in the downtown and demolition of old buildings in much of the city.

But the move will not affect the downtown’s biggest landowner: New England Development Company filed plans to subdivide some of its key downtown parcels prior to the enactment of the new rules.

In recent days it was unclear whether NED’s proposals would be judged under the old zoning rules or by the new amendments passed Tuesday night.

Mayor Donna Holaday said NED proposals will come under the old rules.

“They registered their paperwork before the council approved interim measures,” Holaday said yesterday.

New England Development Company was expected to present its subdivision plans at the Planning Board last night, but postponed its appearance. NED has been in the news lately for filing preliminary subdivision requests for the Merrimac-Titcomb street area and for the riverfront sector near the Oldies Marketplace.

Whatever set of rules they must comply with, NED executives appear to be moving forward with plans to do something with their property, though no details have been made public. City officials have said the Merrimac-Titcomb land is slated for an 85-room hotel, but they say they don’t know what is planned for NED’s 2.6 acres of waterfront land off Water Street. Officials at NED did not respond to The Daily News.

The company owns 50 commercial parcels in the downtown and along the river; it is the city’s largest landowner.

Yesterday, Holaday and Councilor Jared Eigerman, the driving force in developing the interim amendments, said they were pleased with the council’s 10-0 vote to approve the measures that will affect properties in the future, if not right now.

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