NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

December 3, 2012

O'Connor Ives touts new proposal

NEWBURYPORT — The following is a statement from Kathleen O’Connor Ives regarding her initiative to develop an ordinance to create a Local Historic District here:

“There are three separate initiatives related to the proposal, which would amend chapters 5 and 16 of Newburyport’s code of ordinances.

“The first initiative is to strengthen the city’s current demolition-delay ordinance so the delay period is extended from the current one-year delay to a two-year delay before a building may be demolished. Where a building is demolished in violation of the ordinance, a building permit will not be issued for three years.

“The second component is the creation of a Downtown Historic District. Within the district, measures for the protection of the architectural features of the downtown would be in place. This would include demolition prevention, encouraging new construction in the downtown to be sympathetic with the surrounding architecture and maintenance of original features such as doors, windows, masonry and rooflines.

“Lastly, the Demolition Control District would comprise Newburyport’s National Register District, which is approximately from Atkinson Common to Marlboro Street. Within this district, if an applicant sought to demolish an historic home, they would have to show the building to be structurally unsound before a demolition permit is granted.

“This proposal is different from the LHD Study Committee’s proposal in a number of ways, but one significant change beyond the scope of the district is that all requirements in the districts are included in the ordinance itself and the Historical Commission’s guidelines are suggestions and not obligatory regulations.

“Also, residents within the Demolition Control District would not be subject to the ordinance unless they applied to demolish their home.

“I support this approach because it addresses two of the most pressing issues we share as a community —demolition and a lack of protections in the downtown. These measures would address activities that compromise Newburyport’s rare inventory of original period architecture and streetscapes, which are our economic engine.”

O’Connor Ives added City Councilor Robert Cronin offered to be a co-sponsor of the measure so the proposal could be carried over into next year’s City Council business if there is no vote on the two ordinances before she leaves the council to assume her state Senate seat Jan. 1.

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