NEWBURYPORT — The City Council approved an ordinance Monday to create a Brown School overlay district in the South End, limiting the number of housing units and other features of future developments at the former school site. 

After a lengthy discussion, the ordinance was amended and then adopted unanimously by the council, except for Councilors Thomas O'Brien, who was absent, and Afroz Khan, who recused herself from the vote because she is an abutter.

 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.

The ordinance, sponsored by Ward 1 Councilor Sharif Zeid, 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. On Monday, this provision was amended to also include the option for 20 affordable senior housing units.

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

The second option in Zeid’s new proposal would move Newburyport Youth Services from 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 razing the gymnasium, while setting a maximum residential density of 20 dwelling units, 20% of which would be affordable for seniors.

 For more on the council meeting, follow and Wednesday's print edition of The Daily News.

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

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