, Newburyport, MA

Local News

December 3, 2012

New LHD plan lacks favor

Citizens on both sides find fault with compromise initiative


And Niketic said her members “prefer the study committee’s proposed ordinance, which matches hundreds of others statewide except for actually being less intrusive.”

”We are bitterly disappointed that High Street and Federal Street are excluded under Councilor O’Connor Ives’ proposal,” she said.

Niketic added, “The alternative proposal is not as strong as we think is needed to protect Newburyport’s historic character. Our increasing affluence means those streetscapes are under development pressure unseen in 1972 or even 1992.”

One of O’Connor Ives’ proposed amendments focuses on demolition delay. The other amendment defines the size of a Local Historic District, with her plan portrayed as smaller than that 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.

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.

Also, if a historically relevant structure is destroyed “without a demolition permit having been first obtained,” the city will not approve a building permit on that site for a period of three years.

O’Connor Ives’ demolition control district runs from about Ashland Street to about Marlboro Street, and from the river to High Street.

O’Connor Ives also has developed “an ordinance regarding historic preservation.”

This would dissolve both the existing Historical Commission and the Fruit Street Historic District and establish a newly constituted Historical Commission. This panel would assume the duties as outlined “under Section 8D of Chapter 40 of the Massachusetts General Laws” as well as under home-rule powers of the city.

The most noticeable attribute of her ordinance is that the acreage under the auspices of this Historical Commission would be much smaller than the LHD proposed by the study committee.

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