NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

November 26, 2012

LHD may be decided tonight

NEWBURYPORT — Two major issues — a vote on the LHD and the plans of the NRA — are expected to be discussed at municipal meetings this week, and city councilors know their ABCs when it comes to these two much-debated issues.

The LHD refers to the proposed Local Historic District, and councilors say a vote could take place at its regular meeting tonight at 7:30 in council chambers of City Hall.

The NRA stands for the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority, which is creating a request for proposals (RFP) to circulate among developers for a new park and two commercial buildings on the waterfront. The NRA is scheduled to meet Wednesday at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

The proposed LHD has been one of the most contentious issues in the city in years. If it passes, it would create a Local Historic District Commission that would have authority over major changes to structures on High Street, the central neighborhoods and the downtown business district.

The LHD Study Committee has been working on creating an ordinance since 2007, and City Hall observers say that councilors might vote on the issue tonight.

“An up-and-down vote could be taken at the meeting,” said City Councilor Bob Cronin. “There has been much discussion, and councilors have had time to think about it.”

Numerous City Hall observers say the proposed ordinance, as it stands, will not generate the required super-majority of eight votes for passage.

“It might not pass,” said Cronin. “But a couple ideas will stay on my radar, including looking closely at our demolition delay guidelines, and also about attention to the downtown business district.”

Councilor Allison Heartquist said, “I don’t think the LHD is going to pass in its current state, but I think that we should focus on the downtown. I think we need a measure with some bite.

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