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January 16, 2013

Council names new committee assignments


O’Brien said after the meeting that an ordinance to regulate the demolition of historic buildings might be addressed by the council in coming weeks.

Also, a measure to provide preservation controls over the downtown commercial sector could appear on the council agenda.

Both matters had been championed by O’Connor Ives and could come up again, say councilors.

The defeat of the LHD came as a disappointment to many residents who had supported it for more than a year.

Councilors at their last meeting in 2012 had downsized the proposed district to include just five structures on High Street, between State Street and Wills Lane.

As a result, several leaders of the pro-LHD forces Monday night said they were withdrawing their support because the district was so small as to be ineffectual. Also, they objected to new wording that made the City Council the organization that would hear appeals to the LHD Commission’s decision.

Jared Eigerman, a onetime spokesman of Citizens for Historic Newburyport, expressed frustration that there had been no public debate between supporters and those who opposed the LHD.

“Why should opponents debate us when slogans worked so well,” he asked rhetorically Tuesday. ‘They want to tell you how to maintain your home.” I read (that) in countless letters to the editors, even though the state law forbids using LHDs to regulate ordinary maintenance, repair or replacement.”

Eigerman added, “I also read, ‘This will cost homeowners thousands,’ yet state law requires cities to give exemptions for financial hardship.”

Regarding the future of the LHD Study Committee, Mayor Donna Holaday could not be reached for her views on the matter yesterday.

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