Category Archives: Massachusetts, State Stuff

The Recycling Plastic Bag Slurping Machine

recycle-machine-happyChild

Fun recycling slurping plastic bag machine

I really like the idea of a single use plastic bag recycling slurping machine. (Please see earlier entry here.)

First of all, the plastic bag industry has a huge PR problem on their hands. The sustainable bag folks are right, plastic bags are wandering around not only our local environment, but all over the place.  And the approach at the moment is to ban them outright, which causes all kinds of friction in communities, all over North America.

And it’s time that the plastic bag folks worked with environmentalists instead of against them, because for the plastic bag industry it comes down to keeping your product which equals = $$ money.

For example, If you had a recycling machine that slurped plastic bags (without slurping in little hands that might feed them) for either a small amount of money, or maybe something like points that could be redeemed for money, you could be a hero to young mothers and fathers everywhere. What little child wouldn’t be mesmerized by machine that slurps plastic bags.

If a young mother or father who needs to go to the grocery store, and young Emma or Aiden is tired and cranky and doesn’t want to go to the grocery store, the young parent can say, “Honey, if we go to the slurping plastic bag machine first, will you help mommy or daddy go grocery shopping, and then we can use the rest of the plastic bags at the slurping machine when we’re done.” It might be a real incentive to a) recycle plastic bags and b) go cooperate with their parents at the grocery store. You, plastic bag company,  become a hero.

On one of those horrible rainy days when kids are stuck inside, a trip to your local supermarket or wherever, where young kids can feed in plastic bags to the plastic bag recycling slurping machine, could be a real godsend for something fun + practical to do.  Been in those parents shoes, know what it’s like.

And if little Emma or Aiden can make some money to boot, they are going to be begging their neighbors, their Nana for their plastic bags to take to this fun plastic bag slurping recycling machine.  Pretty soon, Emma and Aiden, whether they are environmentalists or not, learn about recycling because it’s fun, and they get lots of positive feedback from helping people as well.

Schools could have fundraisers using the plastic bag recycling slurping machine, make a little money, and learn how to help the environment while they are doing it. And you plastic bag industry look great.

The plastic bag recycling slurping machine wouldn’t be good just for Newburyport, it would be good for everyone all over the world.  The plastic bag folks could then help solve a world wide problem, and be heroes instead of the goat.

Recycle_BagThe other thing, is that the production of the plastic bag recycling slurping machine would help create a whole new industry and lots of new jobs (preferably here in Massachusetts).

This also assumes that people know loud and clear where to take those single use plastic bags.  Having great big huge “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” logos on plastic bags, and exactly where to return them, would be real easy to legislate (much easier than an outright ban). And plastic bag industry, why not beat the government to the punch, and do that yourselves. Again, you would be heroes, instead of the people known for causing a major environmental problem.

A Fun Way to Recycle Plastic Bags

Recycle_BagRecycle_BagLook, not only do I get that plastic bags are detrimental to our wetland and coastal areas, I agree with it.  However, instead of an outright ban, I’d like a reasonable and practical effort to minimize the use of single use plastic bags.  And I understand that Market Basket has been unresponsive to this issue (and the single use plastic bag industry must be as well, since their “recycle and reuse” logo is so tiny, you can hardly see it), and I hope that the proposed ban forces Market Basket to have a meaningful dialogue with the city council and residents about how to solve this issue.

And this is what I don’t understand.  First of all, it would be a giant PR move for both the single use plastic bag industry and the supermarket industry if they put big, huge colorful “reduce, recycle, reuse” logos on their plastic bags, with where to recycle them (i.e. at Market Basket or Shaws) in big bold letters, instead of in fine print at the bottom.  Both industries would be heroes instead of goats. Seems like a pretty good idea to me. If both those businesses/industries did that, we might not be having this local fight over plastic bags, that we are having now, and they would help the environment all over the place. This would be a good thing.

recycle-machine copy

Fun slurping recycling machine

The other thing is, that if I was an inventor, or if I was the plastic bag industry, I’d find me an inventor, to have a fun way to recycle the plastic bags once they got to the supermarket.  If I was an inventor, I’d invent a machine that slurped the plastic bags in one at a time and gave a penny for each plastic bag, or a penny for 5 plastic bags (whatever is economical and fair).  First of all, little kids (or even grown-ups) would be mesmerized by a machine that slurped plastic bags.

And when you could first get money for returning cans, people were scouring all over the place, cities, suburbs, to find cans to make some extra money.  If you had a fun machine that slurped plastic bags AND got a little dough in the process, I bet the same thing would happen, and I bet you would have a whole lot less single use plastic bags wandering around our environment, and I bet they’d be reduced in a major, major way, pretty quick.  It would be a huge PR win for the plastic bag industry, and they wouldn’t be so vilified and it would be fun to boot. And it would be a good thing for the plastic bag industry to work with environmentalists  to help solve problems for a win-win solution.

Ed Cameron is Running for State Rep

Our Newburyport City Councilor Ed Cameron has announced that he will be running for State Rep to fill Michael Costello’s seat (Mike Costello will not be running for reelection in November).

This email arrived this morning:

Dear Friend,

As you probably know, State Representative Mike Costello announced this past Wednesday that he will not be running for reelection to the First Essex District this November.

I am announcing that I will be a candidate for this House seat.

Thursday’s article in the Daily News linked here provide a great summary of what Mike has meant to the district. The article can be read here.

Mike has been a true champion on issues for Amesbury, Newburyport, and Salisbury.

He has been instrumental in providing State support for bridges, roundabouts, beaches, boardwalks, rail trails, and other important elements that make our communities strong.

I can do a good job representing the citizens of these three communities.

My experience as a Newburyport City Councillor has given me an understanding of where State government needs to do better to sustain local communities, particularly with general local aid, Chapter 70 educational aid, and Chapter 90 transportation funds for local street and sidewalk improvements.

My experience in the nonprofit sector has given me an understanding of how challenging it can be for families to raise and educate their children, find housing they can afford, and get to work on inadequate highways, trains and buses.

Mike has been a strong advocate for us and we’re very fortunate to have Senator Katy O’Connor-Ives represent us in the State Senate.

I want to earn your vote over the next several months. And I do ask for your support. More importantly I respectfully ask for your input on what issues are important to you.

You can click on this link to give me your ideas. The link is here.

I will make a formal announcement in the next few days and begin to collect signatures over the next few weeks. Please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions or want to help.

Thank you,

Ed Cameron
978-518-0786
edcameronNBPT@gmail.com

The Story of the Newburyport Turnpike, Rt 1, with Thanks to Gordon Harris

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The Newburyport Turnpike, courtesy of Gordon Harris, originally from Massachusetts Beautiful, by Wallace Nutting, 1923

I’ve discovered a wonderful new (to me) blog, written by Gordon Harris of Ipswich, Massachusetts. The blog is called “Stories from Ipswich.” And I discovered it via Facebook.  Mr Harris has written the story of the Newburyport Turnpike or what we now call Route 1, and how it came to pass.

In 1803 a group of Newburyport investors incorporated as the Newburyport Turnpike Corporation in a commercial venture to build a straight toll road from Boston to Newburyport (the highway we call Rt. 1). The intent was to bypass Salem and promote Newburyport as a commercial destination. Proponents claimed it would cut travel time by a third compared to the old Bay Road (Rt. 1A).”

To read the entire fascinating account/history, please press here.

And many thanks to Gordon Harris for letting me borrow/steal the photo of the Turnpike for this post. To see a large version, please read his blog post.  And if you download the photo, please give Gordon Harris and his blog credit (it is now one of my pet peeves that I find images that have been collected by me, the editor of The Newburyport Blog, for the last 7 years, all over Facebook, without any credit to The Newburyport Blog or the place where the image originated).

Newburyport Schools are Doing Awesome-Congratulations

From today’s Newburyport Daily News

Newburyport Leads Local Schools in MCAS Results

“The state released the results of the Spring 2013 MCAS, and once again local schools outperformed the state average in nearly every category, with Newburyport leading the way.

Overall, Newburyport had the highest scores across all grade levels and subjects in the region…”

Congratulations to all our wonderful teachers. The complete story can be read here.

We Didn’t Have the Green Thing Back Then

I pissed off a lot of people with the “Please Leave My Plastic Bags Alone” post.  I was even asked not to write anything more about the subject (democracy, free speech anyone??), so, at least for now, technically I won’t.

This has been making the rounds on the internet for months and months and months (the source unfortunately is unknown – wish I knew!!), so if you haven’t seen it…

We Didn’t Have the Green Thing Back Then

“Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days.” The young clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”

She was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.

Milk Bottles, Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Milk Bottles, Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were truly recycled. But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags. But too bad we didn’t do the green thing back then.

We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right; we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana.

In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she’s right; we didn’t have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn’t have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?”

Kathleen O’Connor Ives’ First Month as State Senator

Senator O'Connor Ives with her staff

Senator O'Connor Ives with her staff

Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives with her staff at the Massachusetts State House.  From right to left:
Maria Syrniotis – Deputy Chief of Staff, Legislative Director
Chris Power – Scheduler
Hailey Klein – Chief of Staff
State Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives
Michael Gallant – Constituent Services Coordinator
Dennis Marcelo - District Director

Senator O'Connor Ives with Mike Costello

Senator O'Connor Ives with Mike Costello

With State Representative for the First Essex District, Mike Costello, at the Massachusetts State House.

Senator O'Connor Ives at the State House

Senator O'Connor Ives at the State House

Senator O’Connor Ives in the Massachussetts State House Senate Chamber.

Senator O'Connor Ives Haverhill Office Hours

Senator O'Connor Ives Haverhill Office Hours

Senator O’Connor Ives first Office Hours at the Haverhill Public Library on Friday, January 18. Office hours will be held in every city and town in the First Essex District.

Senator Kathleen O'Connor Ives at the MLK Breakfast

Senator Kathleen O'Connor Ives at the MLK Breakfast

With Nancy Earls at the Martin Luther King Breakfast where Nancy was honored with the YWCA 2013 Peace Award.  The article can be read here.

The Massachusetts State House

The Massachusetts State House

The Massachusetts State House.

You can visit State Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives Facebook page here.

(Photographs used with permission, from Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives’ Facebook page.)

Kathleen O’Connor Ives Sworn in as State Senator

Kathleen O'Connor Ives being sworn in as State Senator

Kathleen O'Connor Ives being sworn in as State Senator

Kathleen O’Connor Ives was sworn in as our new First Essex District State Senator for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on Wednesday, January 2, 2013.

Senator O’Connor Ives contact information:

State House
Room 74
Boston, MA 02133
617-722-1604
Kathleen.O’ConnorIves@masenate.gov

Hailey Klein – Chief of Staff
Maria Syrniotis – Deputy Chief of Staff, Legislative Director
Dennis Marcelo - District Director
Michael Gallant – Constituent Services Coordinator
Chris Power – Scheduler

Kathleen O’Connor Ives, WINS State Senate for the First Essex District in Massachusetts

Kathleen O’Connor Ives, WINS the seat for State Senate for the First Essex District in Massachusetts.

Updates to come.

kathleenoconnorives

Kathleen O'Connor Ives State Senator

The Newburyport Daily News reporting that Katy has sizable wins in Methuen, Newburyport, North Andover, and Haverhill.

Newburyport unofficial numbers:
Ives 7210
Toomey 2281
Kelcourse 377
Magliochetti 460
______________________________

UPDATE  Friday, November 7, 2012:

Kathleen O’Connor Ives: Dem – 36,175 /46%
Shaun Toohey: GOP – 26,483  /34%
Paul Magliochetti: Ind – 12,764 /16%
James Kelcourse: Unr  - 3,340 /4%

Town by Town results (press image to enlarge)

Town by Town results (press image to enlarge)

Town by Town results (press image to enlarge)

(Updated numbers courtesy of The Boston Globe)

Kathleen O'Connor Ives Wins

Kathleen O'Connor Ives Wins

(Photo courtesy of Kathleen O’Connor Ives for State Senate)

Celebrating Kathleen O’Connor Ives’ win, State Representative Michael Costello hugging Kathleen, as Campaign Manager Hailey Klein and Katy’s husband Jeff Ives look on.

Where to Vote in Massachusetts and Newburyport on Tuesday, November 6, 2012

vote

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has a very cool tool to find out where to vote in Massachusetts and in Newburyport!! this Tuesday, November 6, 2012.

You just enter your street number and its name, and your city or town, or your zip code, and voila, it tells you exactly where to go!! (it even tells you what ward you are in, and how to get in touch with the City Clerk).

Once you put in your information, it also has a link to a copy of the state’s sample ballot for your location, so that you can see who to vote for, as well as what the 3 ballot questions are, and what the 2 non-binding ballot questions are. (The link to the sample ballot is at the top after your address, where it says, “My State Ballot”, under “Who is on my Ballot.”)

Voting hours are 7am to 8pm.

Be sure to vote.

To use this fun “where to vote” tool, please press here.

For a link to a copy of Newburyport’s sample ballot, please press here.

sample-ballot3

When you press the link, the state’s sample ballot will look like this.

Kathleen O’Connor Ives’, Katy Ives’ Win – the Numbers

Here is Kathleen O’Connor Ives’,  Katy Ives’ win for the Democratic primary election for Massachusetts State Senator for the First Essex District by the numbers:

Newburyport
Coco 212
Ives 1701
Manzi 125

Amesbury
Coco 163
Ives 552
Manzi 86

Salisbury
Coco 90
Ives 225
Manzi 87

Merrimac
Coco 90
Ives 146
Manzi 51

Haverhill
Coco 1734
Ives 511
Manzi 697

North Andover
Coco 391
Ives 382
Manzi 305

Methuen
Coco 730
Ives 511
Manzi 1855

Kathleen O’Connor Ives WINS!!

Our very own Kathleen O’Conner Ives, our Katy Ives WINS the Democratic Primary election for Massachusetts State Senator for the First Essex District!!

YEH!!!

Kathleen O’Connor Ives of Newburyport 4,065 votes

Timothy Coco of Haverhill 3,264 votes

Bill Manzi of Methuen 3,277 votes

Source, The Boston Globe

Katy with Mike Costello

Katy with Mike Costello

Katy Ives with Mike Costello, Massachusetts 1st Essex District State Representative on election night with the election totals!!

Kathleen O’Connor Ives, State Senate, a New Generation of Politicians

If you take a look at Kathleen O’Connor Ives and any of her running mates, whether Democrat or Republican, Katy Ives stands out.  A twinkling star in the midst of “same old, same old.”

Amesbury Candidate Debate

The Amesbury Candidate Debate

And taking a look at the photo of Katy and her husband Jeff, I was struck by something.  Sometimes women candidates have support from their husbands, some enthusiastic, some grudging, but looking at Katy and Jeff there is something different. It’s a whole new generational different.

Jeff is the man behind the woman, literally in the photo of them together.  This is a whole new generational “thing.”  It transcends feminism.  It’s as if a woman running for public office is not only not an issue, but not even on the radar screen.  For 100′s of millions of women who have worked and been ambitious in their various fields, this is what they would like from their spouse. And the photo doesn’t lie, it’s how Jeff and Katy actually are.

katy and Jeff

Katy and Jeff

This is a new political verity, this is what  generations of women have wanted.  It may be why consensus building is so natural and second nature to Katy. It may be why members of the Newburyport City Council, progressive or conservative trust her. It may be why she does what she thinks is best for her constituents, and often surprises people with her independent Newburyport City Council vote.

This is the sort of human being, a shining human being, that I would like to see as my new Massachusetts State Senator for the First Essex District.

So vote this Thursday, September 6th.  And if you do not know where to vote press here.

Kathleen O’Connor Ives Running for State Senate

Kathleen O'Connor Ives for State Senate

Kathleen O'Connor Ives for State Senate

On September 4, 2007, I met then candidate for Newburyport City Council at Large, Kathleen O’Connor Ives (Katy).

I found Katy to be delightful, smart, gutsy and energetic, someone who could be a real asset to Newburyport. But being a newcomer to Newburyport, I really and truly did not think she had a prayer in the upcoming elections.

It’s pretty gutsy to come into town and decide to get that involved in your new place of residence–to run for Newburyport City Councilor at Large.

And that she most probably didn’t stand a chance, but was running anyway, and against some pretty steep competition–a very accomplished incumbent and two former mayors no less.

That said a whole lot about Katy Ives.

And as I walked and talked around Newburyport, what I found was that everyone, once they had met Kathleen O’Connor Ives, wanted to see her on the Newburyport City Council (really, I’m not kidding).

And that’s no small accomplishment.

At first it was the more progressive folks and centrist folks that seemed to take a shine to Ms. Ives.

However, when I started to talk to more conservative folks, they had the same reaction. They liked her too.

And somehow Katy was overcoming the old Yankee suspicion about anyone “new,” combined with the old Yankee attitude of “you pay your dues.”

And Katy proved me wrong. She won. And Kathleen O’Connor Ives has turned out to be the Newburyport Councilor at Large everyone hoped she would be, winning two more terms handily for Newburyport City Councilor at Large.

Sound familiar.

Yup, Kathleen O’Connor Ives is now running for Massachusetts State Senate for the First Essex District. And as one of her supporters said, “In an old boy, old boy world, Katy may not be the most connected candidate, but she’s the smartest.”

And do not count Kathleen O’Connor Ives out in this election for Massachusetts State Senate on Thursday, September 6th. Once her voting constituency meets Katy Ives, they will have the same reaction that the people of Newburyport did in 2007, 2009 and 20011. And they will know she would be terrific as their state senator, and they will vote for Kathleen O’Connor Ives on Thursday, September 6, 2012.

Kathleen O'Conner Ives for State Senate

Kathleen O'Connor Ives for State Senate

Katy’s website can be found here.

Katy’s Facebook page can be found here.

Katy Ives Running for State Senate

Our very own Katy Ives (Newburyport City Councilor) is running for Massachusetts State Senate (the First Essex District, Senator Steve Baddour’s old Senate seat), and she would be terrific!!

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Kathleen O'Connor Ives for State Senate

Check out Katy’s campaign website!

Check out Katy’s Facebook page!

Check out Katy’s first campaign video on YouTube.  You will see lots of Newburyport friends, conservative, progressive and in between, all explaining why she would be such a great State Senator!!

Confusion about Newburyport’s Proposed Local Historic District (LHD)

Confusion abounds when it comes to Newburyport’s proposed Local Historic District (LHD).

One of the things that folks are confused about is how the LHD could be changed if it should pass.

Local Historic Districts differ from state to state.  Our state LHD state law is called General Law Chapter 40C, the Historic Districts Act.  It informs our local LHD law, ordinance, if it should pass, and is often referred to in the draft ordinance of Newburyport’s proposed LHD.

The LHD ordinance or municipal law is guided by state law just the way our city planning and zoning laws are.

The proposed ordinance could not be changed without a super majority of the Newburyport City Council, 8 out of 11 votes.  That is in State General Law, Chapter 40C, Section 3.

The proposed LHD ordinance includes what is not included or what is exempt, things like paint color, shutters, roofing material, ordinary maintenance and repairs, landscaping, storm windows, storm doors, gutters, shutter hardware, driveways, terraces.

The draft guidelines help clarify and give guidance to a homeowner who would like to make changes to the exterior of their home, seen from the public way, on items that are not exempt.

What was said at the first informational meeting was that most LHDs don’t start with guidelines, that Newburyport was an exception and should be applauded for trying to make things as clear as possible.

At the moment (and the creation of a city law is a process) the guidelines can be changed with a public hearing (Section 6.3). I asked the LHD Study Committee (they can be contacted at lhdsc@cityofnewburyport.com), and what I was told is that there is only one location in Massachusetts where the guidelines are changed by a super majority vote.

If the Newburyport City Council choses (it will reach the City Council after the Public Hearing), it can change Section 6.3 in the LHD draft ordinance, so that any changes to the guidelines would also require a super majority vote in the Newburyport City Council, 8 out of 11 votes.

The LHD state law, Chapter 40C can be read here.

The Tappan House, 1 Littles Lane, Soon to be Demolished

The Tappan House, Courtesy of P.Preservationist

The Tappan House, Courtesy of P.Preservationist

“One billionaire’s castle is another billionaire’s teardown. Never mind the existing mansion—it’s the location these moguls want, not someone else’s hand-me-down house. Instead of renovating, the very rich call in the wrecking ball and build their personal playgrounds from scratch.”

One of the most startling ones to me is a mansion bought by Steve Jobs.

“For years, Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple wanted to tear down a 17,000-square-foot, 35-room Spanish-style mansion he owned since the 1980s in Woodside, Calif., south of San Francisco. He instead envisioned a smaller, likely more techno-savvy home for his family on the lot. After battling legal challenges to save or move the 1920s “Jackling House,” built by the California architect George Washington Smith for a prosperous copper entrepreneur, Jobs received a demolition permit. Howard N. Ellman, Jobs’s lawyer, said the house was bulldozed in February but Jobs’s dwindling health put the plans on hold. Janet Koelsch, the Woodside town clerk, confirms there have been no applications for development received for the property since demolition of the house.”

The article “America’s Doomed Mansions,” By Marcelle Sussman Fischler, Forbes.com, November 21, 2011 can be read here.

Not to compare anyone in Newbury or Newburyport to Steve Jobs!!  But, the tale and others like it in the article does remind one of the impending demolition of 1 Littles Lane, the Tappan House, in Newbury, MA, just down the street from Newburyport.

The article in the Newburyport Daily News about the impending demolition of the Tappan House can be read here.

To read more about the Tappan House, 1 Little’s Lane, Newbury, MA,  press here.

The “No LHD” Folks and Distortion of the Facts

One of the real problems I have with the “Say No to LHD” folks is not only presenting wrong information as the truth (see previous post), but also the weird distortion of the facts about Newburyport’s proposed Local Historic District (LHD).  The point of the misinformation and distortion of the facts appears to be 1) to scare folks into either being terrified that this “socialist” agenda, or 2) just scaring them in general with distorted and false information.  And that distorted information gets out there, and is perceived by good and well intentioned folks as fact.

I wish I was making this up.

The proposed Newburyport LHD is based on state law. Each state differs in their laws about a LHD.  Our state law is called Massachusetts General Law Chapter 40C, which can be read here.  The draft of the proposed LHD ordinance references Chapter 40C.

Folks have emailed me and I have read many “alternatives” to having a LHD.  Have the guidelines under the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Planning Board, the Building Inspector to prevent another layer of government.  Have a voluntary LHD the way they do in Rhode Island.

Our state law is very specific.  And a LHD cannot be voluntary (it maybe in other states, but not in our state).   By law, the Zoning Board, Planning Board and the Building Inspector do not have a say over what a LHD in our state would cover.

And if the LHD passes, by state law, the ordinance can only be amended by a super majority of the Newburyport City Council, 8 out of the 11 councilors.  If the city wanted to expand the LHD, it would have to go through what it went through to create the proposed LHD. There would be a new investigation,  the new area would be reviewed by the Massachusetts Historical Commission, there would be a public hearing and it would need to be approved by the council by a super majority, 8 out of the 11 councilors.  This is laid out in Section 3 of our state law, which can be read here.

State law requires a LHD Commission, and that is laid out in Section 4 of Mass General Law 40C which can be read here.

Also their claim that only 2 city residents will be on the LHD Commission is false.  Our own Newburyport City law 2-62 states very clearly:

“Persons appointed to City of Newburyport boards, committees, commissions and authorities that are established by ordinance shall be residents of the City of Newburyport. This shall pertain to new appointments made after the date of approval of this section.”

The creation of the proposed Newburyport LHD is also a work in progress.  As an example, this is from the Newburyport Daily News, February 13, 2012, by Dyke Hendrickson.

“The Local Historic District Study Committee has voted to avoid the potential of expensive roofing bills by deleting a measure in its draft that would have required slate roofs to be replaced by slate roofs on structures within the proposed historic district.

The committee met Thursday night, and in discussing feedback it has received, it was stated that homeowners have expressed concern about a proposed requirement stating that a building owner had to replace slate with slate.

In mulling the matter, co-chair Doug Locy called on his own experience to say that a slate roof could cost $110,000, while a roof of another (appropriate) material could cost about $10,000…

The five-member study committee agreed to delete “slate” from its final report, and thus the use of asphalt shingling or other surfaces will be included in the proposed ordinance the committee sends to the City Council in late spring.”

The revised guidelines for the proposed Newburyport LHD will be put up on the City’s website after March 1st.  And the proposed 2nd draft of the LHD has not yet had a Public Hearing, or gone before the Newburyport City Council, where it will most, if not very likely, if not definitely be further amended.

The No LHD Literature-Wrong Information

I was given a copy of the literature (one piece of paper) from the “Say No To LHD” folks.

2 things immediately stand out as just wild misinformation !!  Just plain WRONG information!!  Hello.

1) Their claim that  the LHD Commission would only require 2 Newburyport residents.  WRONG!  FALSE!

Every member on the LHD Commission would be a Newburyport resident, just like any other Newburyport board and commission.  It was assumed that people would understand this.  But since there is so much misinformation out there, the wording on the second draft of the LHD ordinance will clarify that the Commission will be made up of Newburyport residents only, not “outsiders.”

2)  Their claim that any changes, including enlargement of the LHD or additional restrictions, would require a simple majority vote in the Newburyport City Council. WRONG!  FALSE!

A) Any change to the ordinance would require a super majority vote in the council, 8 out of the 11 councilors.  (Mass General Law 40C, Section 3)

“Any ordinance or by-law creating an historic district may, from time to time, be amended in any manner not inconsistent with the provisions of this chapter by a two-thirds vote of the city council in a city..”

B) And if the LHD were to be enlarged, the city would go through the exact same thing that it has gone through with the creating this LHD. There would be a new investigation, the new area would be reviewed by the Massachusetts Historical Commission, there would be a public hearing, and it would need to be approved by the council by a super majority, 8 out of the 11 councilors. (Mass General Law 40C, Section 3)

“An historic district may be enlarged or reduced or an additional historic district in a city or town created in the manner provided for creation of the initial district…”

Please, facts are important.  Get the facts right!!