, Newburyport, MA

December 13, 2012

Despite vote, LHD will live again

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

Dick Hordon’s letter regarding the LHD compromise proposed by Councilor Ives, which will likely be determined by the time this note is published, is a reminder of how exciting history can be. Here we are, 300 years later, and we’re still fighting the Battle of Bunker Hill. Or is it the Minute Men on Lexington Green? Too bad the Liberty Bell is cracked, otherwise it could still be heard pealing the chimes of glorious liberty for all to hear. Down with the tyranny of George III! Down with the elitist snobs who want to ruin your life with an LHD district! Honest to goodness, this is right out of a comic book.

Mitt Romney said in his presidential debate that “regulations are necessary” in our modern society. If it’s OK with Mitt, it’s OK with me. Hordon and the anti-LHD crowd, if you take their tea party mantras seriously, think all government is bad government, all taxes are bad taxes and anybody poking their nose into your yard ought to be shot, with a musket I presume.

What are laws for? Anti-LHD people constantly say, Newburyport homeowners should be trusted to make their own decisions regarding historic houses; they’ve done a good job in the past, they will continue doing so. No laws need restrain them from being the great people they are. You could say the same thing about murderers. Most people in this country are not going to go and kill someone. Ergo, we don’t need laws regarding murder. That kind of stick-your-head-in-the sand mentality does not work. Laws are there to guard us against the small percentage of our population who have homicidal tendencies.

Despite what Hordon might suggest, all Newburyporters are not perfect. The person who plans to tear down 284 Water St., for example, is not a proper steward for an historic property. He should be restrained, in my opinion, from perpetrating cultural vandalism. For most people, an LHD district will not hinder them one iota. Their liberties will remain intact, their property values high, their homes desirable when it comes time to sell. Sounds like a good deal to me.

The anti-LHD rhetoric is drivel. They act as though the 2,000 or so other LHD districts in this country are part of some insidious plot to ruin America and violate the Constitution. The fact that the Supreme Court has ruled to the contrary in no way persuades them to drift toward the realm of reality. Maybe they should move to New Hampshire, the Live Free or Die state.

Actually, I retract that statement. I did a quick Internet search and discovered that north of the border there are by my count over 90 historic districts. The virus, it appears, is spreading!

The current LHD proposals will regrettably be defeated this year. Don’t gloat too much over that, however. City councils change, the demographics of our city continue to trend towards progressive views. An LHD is coming. The only question is when.

James Charles Roy