, Newburyport, MA

Local News

December 12, 2012

Scaled-back preservation

Eight High Street residences unite for mini historic district

NEWBURYPORT — The handful of residents in the city’s new High Street Historic District yesterday expressed satisfaction that they will be included in a historic sector — even if it is much smaller than what the Local Historic District Study Committee had envisioned.

The City Council Monday night passed the first reading of an ordinance creating a historic district on High Street, between State Street and Wills Lane.

The new district encompasses just eight residences — situated within five structures.

The LHD Study Committee had proposed a sweeping district including High Street from Atkinson Common to Marlboro Street as well as many downtown neighborhoods and commercial blocks.

That district would have included 794 structures, according to the committee.

City Hall insiders say that the compromise to create this smaller district on High Street was a realistic reaction to the sentiment of anti-LHD councilors. The new sector represents houses numbered in the range of 79 to 93, all on the south side of High Street.

“We’ve supported the LHD protection for years, and we will be happy to be in a district,” said Stephanie Niketic, who with her husband lives at 93 High St.

“As neighbors, we were able to talk to each other. Our ward councilor, Greg Earls, helped us. Many homeowners in Newburyport would like the same protection, and we will continue to support them.”

Earls argued Monday night that all homeowners within the district’s narrow section of High Street should be able to live in a volunteer district. “They are smart people,” said Earls, who represents this section of Ward 2. “The council can’t sit here and suggest that we know more than they do.”

But while city councilors supported the creation of the High Street Historic District, the proposed LHD ordinance drafted by the study committee was opposed by at least five of the 11 councilors; eight affirmative votes were needed for it to pass.

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