NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

December 7, 2012

LHD plan set for failure

Council poised to reject proposed ordinance Monday

NEWBURYPORT — The initiative to create a Local Historic District has been under discussion for five years, and at least one thing is becoming clear: The LHD ordinance as proposed will not pass.

More discussion is needed, city councilors say.

Last night, members of the City Council’s Planning and Development Committee and the Committee of the Whole — a combination that totaled 10 councilors — met to discuss amendments to the LHD ordinance suggested by Councilor Kathleen O’Connor Ives. Councilor Ari Herzog was absent.

The discussion came in advance of a City Council meeting Monday night, when the proposed LHD ordinance, created by the Local Historic District Study Committee, is scheduled to come out of committee for a vote of the full council. And evidence suggests it will fail at that time.

“The reality is that that LHD does not have the votes to pass,” Councilor Bob Cronin said.

Eight votes out of the 11 councilors is required for passage of an LHD ordinance.

“The community does not have the appetite for passing the LHD,” Councilor Brian Derrivan added.

Numerous councilors — and many residents — are opposed to the creation of an LHD Commission that would have authority over aspects of renovation of historic homes in some city neighborhoods, including High Street.

With agreement among the councilors last night that the current LHD proposal was headed for failure, much of the ensuing discussion was centered around what councilors can agree on.

O’Connor Ives had introduced several compromise measures, and her document is being used as a springboard for discussion.

Her initiative called for a smaller residential LHD, but opposition councilors essentially derailed that. However, several councilors discussed creation of a voluntary district based on the success of the Fruit Street Historic District.

It was dubbed a “ridge district” and would encompass some houses on High Street between State and Marlboro streets.

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