NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 13, 2012

Historic district battle ramps up

NEWBURYPORT — Differences of opinion still exist among supporters and critics of a proposed Local Historic District, and both sides are expanding their methods of communication to advance their positions.

Opponents in recent days have been putting up "Say No to LHD" signs in front of their homes and gathering signatures in public places from those who object to a historic district.

Backers have scheduled public discussions next Monday and the following Monday, at which authorities with experience in historic districts will make presentations and answer questions.

Though the final report of the Local Historic District Study Committee will not go to the City Council until late spring, discussion of the merits of the LHD are accelerating. The 11-member City Council will decide whether to enact the district, which will include all of High Street and a six-block area around the downtown. Old homes within the district will be subject to new rules regarding exterior changes and renovations.

"We've just started putting the signs up, and we've been continuing our collection of signatures," said Lyndi Lanphear, a leader of the opposition.

"When we started collecting weeks ago, I'd say about a third didn't know much about the issue, a third didn't want to sign and a third signed. Recently, about 75 percent signed, and I think that shows more people are supporting our position."

The Local Historic District Study Committee is still in the process of getting feedback as it prepares to craft a final report and a recommendation to the City Council.

The council will then likely have public hearings and will have authority to alter any aspect of the proposed ordinance that the committee advances.

An LHD ordinance will require a super-majority of affirmative votes, meaning eight councilors must vote for the ordinances.

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