NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

July 9, 2013

City Council tackles new challenges

Amesbury City notebook
Mac Cerullo

---- — The three issues that have largely dominated the City Council’s agenda this year, namely the budget, pay raises and Lower Millyard, have all finally been put to rest. Now as the City Council meets again for the first time since the pay raise decision, the councilors will have a chance to look ahead at the new challenges to come.

There are six new bills being put forth before the council for first readings tonight, and four of them revolve around a request to designate certain properties along Water Street and Chestnut Street as part of the “Lower Millyard and Carriage Hill Urban Park” Priority Development Site.

The idea of the legislation is to amend the zoning laws governing these properties to allow for more flexibility and encourage the economic revitalization of existing historic structures, particularly underutilized ones.

“The existing uses in the industrial buildings in the Lower Millyard and Carriage Hill neighborhood are evolving and changing with the needs of the time and economy,” one of the bills reads. “As more and more conventional manufacturing industrial uses decline, the property owners seek to revitalize these buildings for mixed residential and commercial uses.”

The first bill would establish the area as the Lower Millyard and Carriage Hill Urban Park Priority Development Site and the second would amend the city’s Overlay District Zoning Map to reflect the change.

The third bill would further amend the zoning map to establish two new Smart Growth Overlay Districts, which would allow mixed uses to revitalize dilapidated buildings and vacant parcels, and the fourth bill would make the existing dimensional controls more flexible and integrate the additional requirements within the permit approval process through the Planning Board.

The other two bills being put forth request that the council accept Quitclaim deeds on Lions Mouth Road and Quimby Lane.

All six bills will be forwarded to the Finance and Ordinance Committees for further review, and after those committees issue their recommendations, the bills will return to the Council for a public hearing, most likely in September.

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After more than 100 years in business, W.E. Fuller & Co. will soon be closing its doors. Fourth-generation storeowner Ron Fuller will be retiring later this month, and as a thank you for his longstanding commitment to the city of Amesbury, the Amesbury Chamber of Commerce will be holding a ceremony in his honor next Monday at 4:45 p.m.

Friends, family, local dignitaries and members of the business community will gather at Jon Mooers Artists Gallery and Studio at 19 Main Street to honor Fuller and his family. Following some remarks and a champagne toast, Mooers will unveil a new window display in celebration of the Fullers.

After the ceremony, a reception will be held at the newly re-opened Crave restaurant at 32 Elm Street, which will double as a Business After Hours event for the Chamber. Free appetizers will be provided by Crave, and there will be raffles and a cash bar on hand as well.

Those interested in attending either event should RSVP by Wednesday by calling the Chamber at 978-388-3178.

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The Whittier Home Association will be holding two old-fashioned tea parties this summer in John Whittier’s Victorian Garden, with the first party coming up next Thursday, July 18.

The party will run from 2 to 4 p.m. and the menu includes hot and cold teas, lemonade, and an assortment of tea sandwiches, pastries and light classical music, according to Rosemary Werner, chairperson of the Tea Committee. Patrons will also be offered free tours of the Whittier Home Museum during the tea and afterwards.

The cost of the meal is $20 per person and reservations should be made no later than Monday by calling 978-388-1337. Proceeds from all activities at the home are used to maintain the Whittier Home Museum.

The rain date for the event is Friday, July 19, and there will be a second tea party coming on up Thursday, Aug. 15 as well.

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The Pettengill House’s ninth annual Operation Backpack program has begun, and over the next few weeks the organization will be collecting backpacks filled with school supplies that will be donated to local children in need.

Backpacks will be collected in Amesbury at the library, Flatbread Co., the Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank at both 40 Friend St. and 43 Main St., The Provident Bank at both 5 Market St. and 1 Haverhill Road, Stone Ridge Properties, Stop and Shop, Supercuts, and Unity on the River at 58 Macy St.

Among the supplies needed are backpacks and supplies for students in pre-K through grade 12, including binders, book covers, calculators, composition notebooks, construction paper, crayons, dividers, erasers, flash drives, folders, glue, highlighters, index cards, loose-leaf paper, markers, notebooks, paper clips, pencils, pencil cases and sharpeners, pens, protractors, rulers, scissors and sticky notes. Gift certificates and monetary donations will also be accepted.

For more information, contact Avery Dwyer at 978-463-8801.

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The following meetings are scheduled this week and are open to the public:

Tonight

City Council, 7 p.m., City Hall Auditorium.

Wednesday

School Committee Finance/Budget Subcommittee, 6 p.m., Amesbury High School Library.

School Committee, 7 p.m., Amesbury High School Library.

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Mac Cerullo covers Amesbury for The Daily News. He can be reached at 978-462-6666, ext. 3238 or by email at mcerullo@newburyportnews.com. Follow Mac on Twitter at @MacCerullo.