, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 26, 2012

Thoughts on how opposing sides of LHD could work together

Another session to discuss the proposed Local Historic District will be held tonight at 7 in City Hall Auditorium.

Actually, the term "discuss" doesn't quite fit, since proponents and opponents at such gatherings don't engage in much give and take.

Members of the Local Historic District Study Committee use their public moments to try to explain what a proposed ordinance would mean.

Those opposing a new measure, which has not been finalized, often approach the speaker's mike to imply that committee members are trying to create what they call "just another layer of government."

The issue will be decided by the City Council, not by a vote of the city's residents. But the dialogue continues.

Tonight's format will feature a breakdown into discussion units so that questions can be asked in a smaller forum.

That said, both sides appear to be far apart on what they see as the future of an LHD.

A thought about proponents:

The LHD committee might consider a more egalitarian approach. To wit, the level of discussion appears to be centered around grand mansions on High Street, but a major political component here is the livelihoods of those who work in the city.

For instance, the committee has said that a decision on a building review has to be completed in 60 days.

Two months is an eternity for a contractor in a region like this where the building season is so short.

Indeed, Your Scribe knows a carpenter who fears that this ordinance could create delays that could kill projects. He is strongly opposed — and he talks to the councilor in his ward.

On the same subject, the committee might consider being more inclusive in the makeup of the commission. It's been said that the commission would consist of architects and historians and Realtors and other white-collar types.

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