NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

December 3, 2012

New LHD plan lacks favor

Citizens on both sides find fault with compromise initiative

NEWBURYPORT — As city officials prepare this week to discuss an alternative proposal to create a Local Historic District here, it appears neither side of the long-debated measure is ready to endorse the new initiative.

The initiative has been created by City Councilor Kathleen O’Connor Ives and is independent of a version developed by the Local Historic District Study Committee.

O’Connor Ives, who will resign from the council on Jan. 1 to assume a seat in the state Senate, formally introduced her measure at last week’s City Council meeting. Her plan would create a Downtown Historic District and a Demolition Control District.

The new proposal will be discussed Thursday, when members of the City Council’s Planning and Development Committee and the Committee of the Whole meet at City Hall at 7 p.m.

The creation of an ordinance creating an LHD has been debated here for more than a year. Some City Hall veterans say that this is the most divisive issue that has arisen in the community in more than a decade.

Stephanie Niketic, a spokeswoman for the Citizens for Historic Newburyport, and Dick Hordon, who leads a group known as “Say No to LHD,” both found fault with the O’Connor Ives proposal when approached for comment by The Daily News.

Hordon said, “The new plan conceived by Councilor O’Connor Ives is being presented as smaller than the plan currently still in committee. This is completely untrue.”

Hordon said that what’s being proposed now involves two historic districts — a downtown area with “bigger teeth” and a demolition delay district that encompasses an area from Atkinson Common to Marlboro Street, and from the Merrimack River to High Street, and “everything in between.”

”Between the two new districts, the number of homes and area land will equal the original monster of a plan for 2,700 private homes put before the city a few years ago,” he said.

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