NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

January 28, 2014

Eigerman seeks protection for historic buildings

NEWBURYPORT — City Councilor Jared Eigerman introduced several new ordinances at the regular meeting of the City Council last night that appear to accelerate the discussion on development and parking in the downtown.

Eigerman was a leader in a community group that in recent years was pushing for a Local Historic District. That initiative was defeated by the council after months of discussion.

The Ward 2 councilor is a land-use lawyer and thus familiar with the legal language of urban issues, City Hall observers say.

One initiative the High Street resident has introduced is an ordinance to create an Interim Demolition Control Overlay District (IDCOD).

This measure, if reported out of committee and eventually passed, would “regulate the proposed demolition of historic buildings and residential structures located in residential districts.”

Eigerman’s proposal stated, “Until a comprehensive review and update is completed, there will continue to be limited regulatory protection for historic buildings in neighborhoods ... meanwhile, land prices are sufficiently strong in Newburyport to make it economically rational to demolish and replace historic buildings and structures.”

(Municipal leaders have approved an expenditure of $60,000 for a comprehensive update of the city’s zoning ordinances, but city officials said the review could take nine months to complete.)

Eigerman’s second proposed ordinance calls for the creation of an Interim Downtown Overlay District (IDOD).

The proposal is designed to provide regulatory protections for the historic buildings and structures downtown.

The IDOD would be an overlay district “bounded by High Street, Fruit Street (but excluding the Fruit Street Historic District), Fair Street, a line extended from the terminus of Fair Street at Merrimac Street to the Merrimack River, the high-water line of the Merrimack River, Somersby Landing, Merrimac Street, Market Street, Washington Street and Green Street.”

The measure says the purpose is designed to encourage implementation of the recommendations of the city’s 1991 Historic Preservation Plan, the 2001 Master Plan and the 2003 Waterfront Strategic Plan “to protect the land-use pattern ... and the economic and social heritage of the city through the rehabilitation, preservation and enhancement of its historic downtown.”

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