NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

November 28, 2012

A close look at Ives' proposed historic district

NEWBURYPORT - City Councilor Kathleen O’Connor Ives has about five weeks left at City Hall, but her recent initiative to “broker” the creation of some kind of historic preservation district might serve to keep her visage alive for many years here.

At Monday night’s meeting of the City Council, O’Connor Ives offered two proposed ordinances that relate to preservation and to creating a Local Historic District.

Her goals are not as expansive as those in the proposed ordinance from the Local Historic District Study Committee, and it’s possible that her “LHD lite” will find support among the city’s 10 other councilors.

Her suggestions for two new ordinances, or amendments, will be reviewed by the Planning and Development Committee and the Committee of the Whole on Thursday, Dec. 6, at 7 p.m. at City Hall, according to municipal officials.

O’Connor Ives will resign from the council on Jan. 1 to assume a seat in the state senate but Councilor Bob Cronin is a co-author of her new legislation. With this scenario, her initiative likely will move forward if it is not finalized in December.

At Monday night’s meeting, her two amendments appeared to appeal to fellow councilors, many of whom had indicated that they would vote against the proposed ordinance created by the Local Historic District Study Committee.

One of her amendments focuses on demolition delay. The other amendment defines the size of a Local Historic District, and “her” LHD is much smaller than than of the Study Committee.

Regarding a demolition delay, her proposed ordinance states that the building commissioner “shall not issue a demolition permit for a period of 24 months” from the date the permit is requested.

Municipal officials say the city’s regulation in the area of demolishing historic structures is weak. By stretching the waiting period from one year to two years, the ordinance might cool the interest of a property owner who wants to move quickly in razing a house, city officials say.

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