, Newburyport, MA

November 6, 2012

City has no right to impose LHD

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are the founding virtues of this country. Since the Reagan administration through the Clinton administration, there has been a push for home ownership: one of the pursuits of happiness. Now a few people who feel socially minded feel that the “historical feel” of the city is so important that they are willing to take away homeowners’ rights. What amazes me is that several of the people in this group don’t even own a home, and yet feel themselves qualified to control and dictate to homeowners.

This proposal is appalling and egregious. If the various homeowners want their homes to be listed as historic, let each of them individually put deed restrictions on their home. Why do they feel the need to control others’ homes? It is not the place of the city to place historical standards or change the rules of home ownership. This proposal has nothing to do with public safety, fire or health issues. Hence, the city should have no authority.

Those people who are able to afford to buy these grand old buildings already appreciate their beauty and attempt to provide proper stewardship of them. They do not need some oversight committee to tell them what they can and cannot do to the outside of their homes by some arbitrary group; the LHD Committee could change in the future. The homeowners purchased their homes with no conditions attached and now after many years this city is going to tell them what is now going to be permitted even if it is contrary to the homeowners’ needs or desires.

Although the LHD study committee has for the time being removed their demands that slate roofs be replaced with slate roofs, what will keep them from putting this demand back in the future? The construction costs of some of these replacement situations could encumber the homeowner seriously. Construction materials used today are not even comparable to earlier times. If this proposal were to pass, it could well devalue these homes. Anyone who has had experience dealing with historic codes and committees would run away from the desired property as rapidly as possible.

It is my hope that this LHD proposal will be voted down by this committee and not be recommended. Do not permit the killing of the happiness involved with the owning of these old homes! Vote no on any LHD.

Wm. M. Silsby