Newburyport City Council to consider revised Brown School ordinance

RICHARD K. LODGE/Staff photo The former Brown School in Newburyport’s South End. 

NEWBURYPORT — The agenda for the City Council meeting Monday includes a revised proposal to create a Brown School overlay district in the city’s South End.

The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. in City Council Chambers at City Hall, 60 Pleasant St.

The 1920s era G.W. Brown School closed in 2014. Since then, Newburyport Youth Services has occupied the first floor and uses the gymnasium, but the rest of the building is vacant.

Ward 1 Councilor Sharif Zeid filed a proposal to establish the overlay district in July, but it was rejected by the Planning Board and Committee on Planning and Development. That plan would have set a maximum of 15 housing units for developments on the property. It would have preserved the gymnasium and left future use of the site by Youth Services open ended.

Now, Zeid has submitted a revised proposal that includes three zoning options offering different choices for the future of the Brown School’s gymnasium and also Newburyport Youth Services.

The first option would keep Newburyport Youth Services at the site and retain the gymnasium. It would set a maximum of 15 apartments, a minimum of 20% of which would be affordable housing units for seniors.

The proposal defines senior affordable housing as intended for people age 65 and older.

The second option in Zeid’s new proposal would take Newburyport Youth Services off the property and retain the gymnasium. The plan would put either 18 apartments in the building — 20% of which would be affordable senior units — or 20 units, all of which would have to be affordable senior housing units.

The third option also includes relocating Youth Services and would raze the gymnasium, while setting a maximum residential density of 20 dwelling units, 20% of which would be affordable for seniors.

Also on the agenda is a $10 million bond order to maintain and repair streets and sidewalks.

The order, sponsored by Councilors Jared Eigerman, Joseph Devlin and Sharif Zeid, calls for the money to be spent in five increments of $2 million over the next five fiscal years beginning in fiscal 2020.

On Monday, the council will also consider an order to authorize the city to use a set of new voting machines in elections.

The City Council has already appropriated $47,300 from the free cash account in the fiscal 2020 budget to buy a set of Imagecast Precinct voting machines, which are made by Dominion Voting and would be purchased through LHS Associates of Salem, New Hampshire.

The money will be used to purchase eight machines — or nine, if the city becomes a central tabulation facility — if the council approves their use.

To read the full packet for the City Council meeting: www.cityofnewburyport.com/sites/newburyportma/files/agendas/city_council_packet_09_30_19_final.pdf

Staff writer Jack Shea covers Newbury­port City Hall. He can be reached via email at jshea@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3154. Follow him on Twitter @iamjackshea.

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