, Newburyport, MA


March 22, 2012

Reasons why local historic district should be rejected

To the editor:

The letter from Jerry Mullins which appeared in the March 16 Daily News is precisely why Newburyport should reject the Local Historic District. Having owned a number of 17th and 18th century homes, including my current mid-18th century home on Milk Street, I am aware of both the historical value to the community of maintaining the integrity of these houses and the care it takes to do so.

It cannot, however, be ignored that all communities require new sources of revenue, and that means welcoming new residents who may well have different tastes than the LHD.

Newburyport is not just early homes — it's 2.6 miles from beaches, the wildlife refuge, has access to docking and other facilities, great restaurants and easy access to Route 95. It also has trains and buses to Boston, all of which make it attractive for people to live here. It's not only the architecture that is attractive.

The arrogance of Mr. Mullins' "... new structures that are inappropriate and don't fit into our neighborhoods ... have lost any architectural style" statement represents a threat to every home owner in the proposed LHD if that represents the thinking of the commission. Let's see — 1 Federal and the Rawson house are 17th century. Does that mean all those 18th century and new homes in the same style on Federal and High Streets are "inappropriate and don't fit"?

Mr. Mullins' letter should be a wake-up call to Newburyport. All the assurances that "it's only the outside; we won't interfere in what you need to do inside; we're protecting you" can now be easily seen for what they really are: a wedge to open up further restrictions based on nothing more than the architectural tastes of a few individuals.

David E. Levine


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