NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

November 8, 2012

Community, not LHD, will keep homes maintained

To the editor:

Over the past 40 years, I’ve been a fan of historical architecture and an owner and restorer of two homes in the proposed historic district. I fear these homes would have been lost to the scrutiny of an LHD, subjected to unrealistic expectations and the involvement of a committee I would not have continued.

Instead, in my first project and without a board of directors, I was able to resurrect a slate roof, add a skylight, rebuild a four-stall garage, rebuild a barn on the property, restore the screened-in front porch and put an addition with two decks off the back of the home. In my current home with the zoning board’s approval, I added a deck and garage, rebuilt a center fireplace, replaced the roof and soffits from the beams out, added storm windows and replaced trim. All of the above are subject to LHD approval and I stress that there were no historic boards to present my plans. These expensive external renovations did increase the value of my homes. Together with my neighbors we improved the inner and outer appearance of our homes and our city was enhanced.

I would not have accomplished these renovations under the auspices of an LHD. The costs would not only have been prohibitive, but I would probably still be struggling with my first home. Today both homes maintain their original external appearance and there should be no mystery why. The word “community” says it all. The common unity that we feel as Newburyporters is reflected in the pride owners take in maintaining their homes. Just look around. If you don’t have the trust in your neighbors to do their best, you really don’t belong in this community.

The different period housing is wonderful, but should not to be confused with the historical truth that we, the populace, live in these homes and it is our right to make our own decisions. Our beautiful city has survived and thrived without the involvement of another layer of bureaucracy to distance and overburden the taxpaying homeowner.

The mayor expresses concern for the hard work of those proposing the LHD. Where is her concern for those who have come together to express their disapproval of this proposal? It has been voted down by more than a thousand residents. Please listen to those who have spoken out against the LHD. We have voted no! I respectfully suggest the council do likewise.

Jim Zanfagna

Newburyport

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