To the editor:
I recently saw a framed map of Newburyport from 1894 hanging in several places within Newburyport, including the James Steam Mill. Surrounding the actual map were enlargements of historic buildings that were housing businesses at that time. The sad part is that a large majority of those historic buildings are gone.
Needless to say that the LHD is needed to maintain the historic houses and buildings that make up most of Newburyport. The arguments in the letters to the editor that the current zoning laws can support the preservation of the historic homes and buildings within Newburyport are ludicrous. The zoning laws in this town are outdated as they have been for many years. Do you know that the same zoning laws that apply to the Turkey Hill area also apply to the South End? So a developer can basically purchase an existing home in the South End and rebuild the home into the Eiffel Tower if they so choose. An extra-large home in Turkey Hill is one thing, but an extra-large home in the South End is generally not in compliance with other homes in that area. I have lived in Newburyport since 1988 and have seen many homes made into the cookie-cutter homes so prevalent in the Boston suburbs.
And the fact that voting yes or no on the LHD will really not make much a difference anyway since the final decision will be done by the city councilors really puts a damper on the whole democracy idea, so I hope the councilors realize how important it is to pass the LHD.
Portsmouth is a perfect example of how a city has successfully applied an LHD and should be used as a good reference of how this can work. If you look up Portsmouth, N.H., on the web, the Wikipedia lists the following for the city: "With the protection of a Historic District Commission, much of the city's irreplaceable architectural legacy survives. It draws tourists and artists, who each summer throng the cafes, restaurants and shops around Market Square. In 2008, Portsmouth was named one of the 'Dozen Distinctive Destinations' by the National Trust for Historic Preservation."
Wouldn't it be nice if the same thing could be said about Newburyport?