, Newburyport, MA

April 24, 2014

Zoning board postpones decision on demolition


---- — NEWBURYPORT — The Zoning Board of Appeals this week postponed a matter relating to demolishing a section of a building, in part to gain more information as it addresses expanded new duties.

The ZBA has recently been charged with passing judgment on requests for demolition.

The Historical Commission had held that power, but as a result of new amendments to the municipal zoning ordinance recently passed by the City Council, the Historical Commission now is acting only in an advisory capacity, municipal leaders say.

So when a request to “raze and rebuild” an addition at 43 Fair St. came to its attention Tuesday night, ZBA members opted to postpone the discussion so they can acquire more information.

ZBA chairman Ed Ramsdell requested a continuance until next month for more time to study the matter, since the request “had dropped out of the Historical Commission basket and came to us.”

Also postponed was a request relating to 37 Middle St., where a new owner wants to “convert a mixed-use building to multi-family with three residential units.”

The request involves “increasing height of structure to 36.5 feet from 35.”

Opponents of such a move have said that such an increase would alter the skyline of the building, which is considered a historic structure.

A new owner wants to make the changes so he can develop three condominium units there rather than two.

Municipal records show the structure was built in 1811, and has a living area of 2,607 square feet. Gross area is 3,333 square feet.

The building, assessed for $327,000, was bought in June 2013 by Andrew Debernardo for $500,000, according to city records.

Both matters are scheduled to be heard by the ZBA at its May 13 meeting, Ramsdell said.