, Newburyport, MA

Local News

December 3, 2012

There may be no such thing as LHD 'compromise'

Discussion of an ordinance to create a Local Historic District continues this week, and the principals seem far from agreement.

Lest it seem like this is a never-ending issue, the LHD only comes up about every four decades. The city voted in 1971 against one and if this proposal goes down, it might not surface again for many years.

Last week, City Councilor Kathleen O’Connor Ives released a proposal that is a compromise between approaches favored by the pro-LHD crowd and anti-LHD forces.

Awkward reality: Neither side likes her version. O’Connor Ives, a lawyer, calls for a smaller local historic district than the one proposed by the Local Historic District Study Committee. Also, she calls for longer waiting periods before antique structures can be demolished.

When it comes to citizen involvement, it’s difficult to invoke the term “compromise” to the LHD issue. The “Say No to LHD” adherents don’t seem to want any new regulation at all.

That said, O’Connor Ives’ proposal will be discussed Thursday at 7 p.m. at City Hall at a joint meeting of the City Council’s Planning and Development Committee and the Committee of the Whole.

It is a public session, yet at this point Your Scribe asks, Is there such a thing as too much input from the public? Too much democracy?

There have been a half-dozen public meetings to discuss the ordinance created by the study committee. The study committee itself has hosted more than a score of sessions, at which the group permitted discussion of possible changes.

At those past sessions, members of the public were free to ask questions and/or object to new regulations being contemplated.

For many months, residents have weighed in on matters ranging from fence design to the concept of property rights of homeowners.

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