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November 16, 2012

LHD sent to City Council

Ordinance to be taken up at Nov. 26 meeting

NEWBURYPORT — If the question were put to the City Council today, the creation of a Local Historic District across the downtown and High Street isn’t likely to pass.

That’s what Councilor Kathleen O’Connor Ives suggested last night when the City Council’s Planning and Development Committee and the Council of the Whole discussed the ordinance’s merits.

Chairman Barry Connell said he’s not counted the votes and isn’t sure enough of where councilors stand to make a prediction.

But considering the mixed feelings expressed by councilors who attended last night’s meeting, many of whom were speaking out on the issue for the first time, he proposed that his three-person committee send the ordinance to the full council meeting on Nov. 26 “without prejudice” for an up or down vote.

“That’s about all the public can ask of us,” said Connell.

City officials say a super-majority of eight members (if all 11 councilors are present) must vote in favor of the ordinance for passage.

Residents on both sides of the issue have spoken out in public venues for months on the reasons one should fear or support a local LHD.

Last night it was councilors’ turn to delve into the details as put forth by the LHD Study Committee and voice their pros and cons of the proposed ordinance, which would create a district to include the downtown business section as well as High Street and other historic avenues in the heart of the city.

And like the community they represent, which has detractors and supporters in equal measure, councilors appeared to be split on support for it.

O’Connor Ives indicated she would not likely support the proposed ordinance with a yes vote, and instead came to the meeting with a proposal she felt more comfortable supporting.

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