Category Archives: Local Historic District (LHD)

Newburyport’s Local Historic District (LHD)

Zoning Overlay NOT a Local Historic District (LHD)

Unfortunately the Newburyport Daily News has repeatedly reported that a Local Historic District (LHD) is being proposed.  This is NOT the case, there is NO LHD period.  I am extremely disappointed in our paper of record.  I feel that it is the paper’s responsibility to inform and educate people, not to scare them. To me saying that this proposal is a LHD is like shouting “Fire” in a crowded room, when there is no fire, for me this is unfortunate and irresponsible journalism.  I expect more from the Newburyport Daily News.

Newburyport City Councilor Ed Cameron has clarified what is being proposed in the comment section of the latest Newburyport Daily News article on the subject.  Here it is:

Several clarifications to this reporting are necessary:

First of all this is not a single proposal by Councillor (Jared) Eigerman. He has submitted three separate zoning ordinance changes. Although they can be seen as related, they are each separate.

The three are:

1) a proposal establishing an Interim Downtown Overlay District is zoning that would preserve our historic downtown. Currently there are zero protections since the deed restrictions related to the HUD rehab of downtown which were in effect from 1971-2005 have lapsed. The Planning Board which oversees downtown site plan review would be the Special Permit Granting Authority.

Please note that Councillor Eigerman’s submitted change for downtown zoning is not a local historic district. A local historic district is created under Massachusetts Gen. Laws Chapter 40 C. What is proposed is a zoning change, not a local historic district, and is covered by Massachusetts Gen. Laws Chapter 40A. In this proposal, the local Historic Commission is not involved.

2) a proposal establishing an Interim Demolition Control Overlay District is zoning which would establish protections regarding teardowns in the Federal Newburyport Historic District established in 1984. The ZBA would be the Special Permit Granting Authority in these cases.

3 ) a proposal to amend our off-street parking regulations so that developers who are making a use change or building a new development and want to use public parking to meet their parking requirements will have to pay for it.

Please note that the Council Planning and Development Committee and Committee of the Whole did not “balk” at approving these zoning changes last night. The process is that these zoning changes will go to a Joint Public Hearing of the Planning Board and the Council’s Planning and Development Committee, an opportunity for the public to give input. Any zoning change in Newburyport must go through this process before the City Council takes action. That meeting has been advertised in the Daily News and will occur on Wednesday, February 19 at 7 PM at City Hall.

More details are here:

Councillor Ed Cameron”

Editor’s Note:  This is a comment  from John Macone, the Editor of the Newburyport Daily News, in the comment sections in the latest article in the Newburyport Daily News.  I appreciate it a lot.

“ Thank you for your comments. I agree with commenters who have said this is not a true local historic district proposal, as set down in state law. However, it is also clear that these zoning amendments seek to achieve some of the same protections/property restrictions that the LHD contained.

I’ve changed the headline to better reflect the intent of Councilor Eigerman’s proposals. Also, we will be following up shortly with a comprehensive explanation of the similarities and differences between these proposals and the LHD proposal.
John Macone, editor”

The headline was changed to: “Historic Protections Proposed for Downtown.”

Newburyport 2013 Election Results

Mayor
Donna Holaday (incumbent)
Richard Sullivan Jr.

Winner:
Donna Holaday

Councilor At-Large
(5 Councilors At-Large)
Laurel Allgrove
Edward Cameron (incumbent)
Barry Connell (incumbent)
Ari Herzog (incumbent)
Meghan Kinsey
Lyndi Lanphear
Bruce Menin
Sheila Mullins
Bruce Vogel

Winners:
Edward Cameron
Barry Connell
Ari Herzog
Meghan Kinsey
Bruce Vogel

Ward 1 Councilor:
Michael Ferrick
Allison Heartquist (incumbent)

Winner:
Allison Heartquist

Ward 2 Councilor:
Jared Eigerman
Christopher Welch

Winner:
Jared Eigerman

Ward 3 Councilor:
Robert Cronin (incumbent)
Leslie Eckholdt

Winner:
Robert Cronin

Ward 4 Councilor:
Tom Jones (incumbent)
Charles Tontar

Winner:
Charles Tontar

Ward 5 Councilor:
Larry Giunta Jr.
Sean Reardon

Winner:
Larry Giunta Jr.

School Committee
(3 School Committee members)
Steven Cole (incumbent)
Daniel Koen (incumbent)
Michael Luekens
Raymond Matthews
Cheryl Sweeney (incumbent)

Winners:
Steven Cole
Michael Luekens
Cheryl Sweeney

Election Results 2013, press image to enlarge

Election Results Mayor and City Council 2013, press image to enlarge

Election results  for Mayor and City Council

Election 2013, School Committee (press image to enlarge)

Election 2013, School Committee (press image to enlarge)

Election results for School Committee

Congratulations to all who ran and to all who won.

Official numbers in for the top 5 Newburyport City Council At Large race (slightly different than last nights numbers, the winners are still the same).

Updated total:

Ed Cameron 2947
Barry Connell 2944
Ari Herzon 2893
Megan Kinsey 2856
Bruce Vogel 2526

Final results for Newburyport City Council At Large (press image to enlarge)

Final results for Newburyport City Council At Large (press image to enlarge)

Final total for Newburyport City Council At Large (last night’s results were “unofficial”).

Newburyport Carpetbaggers, the 95%

Carpetbagger

Carpetbagger

One Newburyport City Councilor (Dick Sullivan) got up in the Newburyport City Council chambers and lamented that all these “newcomers” were coming in and telling the folks who were born and raised here what to do.

Another Newburyport City Councilor (Tom Jones) got up (Thursday night) and said how Newburyport was a working class town, and seemed to intimate that it was still a working class town.  No it’s not. In the year 2012, Newburyport is an upper-middle class city, quickly approaching a upper class enclave – especially when Mr. Karp starts building.

Honey, it ain’t your father’s Newburyport anymore.

If you haven’t noticed the carpetbagger thing has really, really gotten out of hand lately.  You don’t just have the carpetbaggers who came in the first wave, in the mid to late 1970′s and very early 1980′s,  right after Urban Renewal renewed.  There was a wave in the late 1990′s after the MBTA came back to town. Remember that, a big housing spike when a lot of the old timers cashed in.  I remember folks saying  that it was a joke that anyone would want to live in Newburyport’s South End. There was a lot of bitterness about how high the taxes had gotten because of the housing boom, but that money bought more house not so far away, in a place where there weren’t so many doctors, lawyers and financial folks. Where the working class folks felt more comfortable.

And then the super duper influx around 2005, when Mr. Karp bought so much land and real-estate downtown.  Yup, and people have just kept coming, with more and more money, lots more money.  And the old-timers, the natives, they pay attention and they vote, but their numbers just ain’t what they used to be.  It’s not your father’s Newburyport by any stretch of the imagination, no how, no way, any more.

14 Russia Street, Newburyport, Adios??

Thanks to the P.Preservationist for the heads-up, as well as Newburyport City Councilor Ed Cameron for the photo (I “borrowed”) and the link to the ZBA meeting.

14 Russia Street, Newburyport, headed for the chopping block by one of our own local developers.

This is why we need a demo delay with teeth, NOT a one year demo delay, good grief!!  Katy Ives is only proposing 2 years. We need more than 2 years (and 2 years is not “a taking,” for goodness sakes!!)

The Newburyport City Council is going to “chat” about Councilor Ives “compromise,” I can see some minor tweaking, but major watering down of even that in a search for some votes.  Hello.

We have a gorgeous, charming place here. The Newburyport City Council has a tremendous and noble opportunity.  Councilor Ives “no demo overlay” for Newburyport’s Historic District – it’s a good idea!!

Councilor Cameron is right, “Newburyport – Death by a thousand paper cuts!!”  Not going to be such a fun place to work, live and play, or eventually make any money off your house when you go to sell it, if the Newburyport City Council doesn’t step up to the plate and do something significant! with a few teeth and a little chutzpah already!! Enough with the caving in to the extreme property rights, minority “wing” of the Newburyport population!!  Man-up!!

14 Russia Street, headed for the chopping block

14 Russia Street, headed for the chopping block

What Newburyport Used to Look Like, “A Measure of Change”

Link to "A Measure of Change"

Link to "A Measure of Change"

This video is worth posting again, and if you haven’t seen it take a look, or if you have seen it, it’s pretty amazing and might be worth a gander again.

It’s about what Newburyport used to look like not so long ago in the late 1960′s and early 1970′s. It’s not the gorgeous downtown we all know and love now.  And downtown Newburyport no longer has any protection (it ended in 2005).  The Newburyport City Council has a fantastic opportunity now to put protection of downtown Newburyport back in place.  It would be a noble and intelligent thing to do.

The film “A Measure of Change” was made in 1975 by Lawrence Rosenblum on what the city looked like before Urban Renewal.  A link to the video which is now online can be found here.

A Really Good Compromise on Newburyport’s LHD

This sounds like a really good compromise on Newburyport’s Local Historic District (LHD) sponsored on Monday night by Newburyport City Councilors Katy Ives and Bob Cronin. Excellent work!!  I hope it is one that the Newburyport City Councilors see as a “win-win” alternative.

The proposals address what Councilor Ives called the “most egregious” situations affecting our historic assets in the city of Newburyport, i.e. demolition, as well as protecting downtown Newburyport, the restoration of which is responsible for the revitalization of a once dying city.

A very well written article in the Newburyport Daily News about the the proposals sponsored by Councilors Katy Ives and Bob Cronin can be read here.

When Newburyport Looked Like a Slum

Newburyport 1967, courtesy of the Archival Center at the Newburyport Public Library (press image to enlarge)

Newburyport 1967, courtesy of the Archival Center at the Newburyport Public Library (press image to enlarge)

I was telling a business owner this week that Newburyport didn’t always look the way it looks now.  The business owner commutes from just outside Boston, and has had their business in Newburyport for over 10 years.  It was a complete shock to them that this now gorgeous place was literally in “shambles,” a slum in 1967.

The Archival Center at the Newburyport Public Library graciously let me take photos of their archives of Newburyport from 1967-1974, HUD, NRA and Urban Renewal.  A link to the 54 photographs that I took from the Newburyport Archival Center can be found here.

(If you download the image would you please give The Archival Center at The Newburyport Public Library and The Newburyport Blog credit.  Thank you.)

Newburyport, Inn Street, 1974

Inn Street, 1974 (press image to enlarge)

Inn Street, 1974 (press image to enlarge)

Inn Street, downtown Newburyport, 1974 (press image to enlarge)
Courtesy of the Archives at the Newburyport Public Library.

(If you download the image would you please give The Archival Center at The Newburyport Public Library and The Newburyport Blog credit.  Thank you.)

Newburyport, Two Views of Pleasant Street

Two views of Newburyport’s Downtown, Pleasant Street from two different time periods.

Unitarian Church, Pleasant Street, 1929, courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Print Department (press image to enlarge)

Unitarian Church, Pleasant Street, 1929, courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Print Department (press image to enlarge)

Church of the First Religious Society in Newburyport (Unitarian), Newburyport, MA
Boston Public Library, Print Department, 1929
Leon H. Abdalian, photographer
Glass Negative

Newburyport's Pleasant Street

Newburyport's Pleasant Street (press image to enlarge)

Newburyport’s Pleasant Street from upper Inn Street, March 1, 1974
Courtesy of the Archives at the Newburyport Public Library.

And this Sunday, October 28, 2012, author and architect Jonathan Hale talks about his 40-year love affair with Newburyport, “Newburyport is a Work of Art: Why its Architecture is Rare and Irreplaceable.” The program is sponsored by the Newburyport Preservation Trust, and it is at 4 p.m. at the Custom House Maritime Museum, Water Street, Newburyport.

(If you download an image would you please give The Boston Public Library or The Archival Center at The Newburyport Public Library and The Newburyport Blog credit.  Thank you.)

Newburyport LHD Political Reality

I am now going to piss off Newburyport preservationists!  Ooops!

The final report of the Newburyport LHD Study Committee (LHD = Local Historic District) is absurdly fair.  The five members did backflips to accommodate feedback from the community and from the Newburyport City Councilors. Backflips, cartwheels, you name it, right from the get go. And despite all of that, on an up and down vote it’s not going to fly. That’s just the existing political reality.

The leading member of the “Say No to LHD” group, its heart and soul, who got up in the first informational meeting a year a go, disrupting the entire meeting and storming out, vowing to stop the LHD, has done a remarkable job. It’s definitely a “Wow.” It appears that the end most certainly justified the means. Trashing people’s reputations and character, personal attacks, threats of law suits (most recently in a comment in the Daily News), presenting information early last winter (good tactic starting early) that was and is simply not true, has worked. Congratulations.

The final version of the LHD ordinance has finally gone to the Newburyport City Council, a meeting will take place this Thursday, October 25, 2012, Newburyport City Hall at 7PM.

As I see it, the political realities. (The boundaries of the proposed LHD are High Street, the gateway to the city, and downtown Newburyport from Winter Street to Federal Street.)  Lob off the North End of High Street at the Kelly School, and put those folks out of their misery.

There is unanimous support along the South End of the “Ridge” to Willis Lane (which is roughly across the street from Fruit Street).  Shorten High Street from Willis Lane to the Kelly School, maybe include St Paul’s Church on the other side (but, good grief, don’t cross the street!).

And protect downtown Newburyport.  After all that HUD Federal money, please, does anyone dispute that the restoration of downtown Newburyport is the reason that Newburyport has become the thriving place that it is today?  Really, not to protect downtown, good grief.

When Governor Deval Patrick came for a visit at Cafe Di Siena (February 2010), I asked Newburyport City Councilor Tom O’Brien if he would vote for the Newburyport LHD, and his response (this was before all of the hullabaloo), “Of course Mary, there’s been too many tear downs.”  This statement was witnessed by Newburyport City Councilor Barry Connell, who with a wink and a smile by both Newburyport city councilors, pretended to write down this vote for the LHD by Councilor Tom O’Brien on the back of his hand.

So why not have have a “No Demolition” zone/overlay for the entire Newburyport Historic District, that would also include “interior demolition for exploratory purposes,” which, for example, lead to the unfortunate creation by a developer on Pine Street, for which the neighbors are suing the developer and the Newburyport Zoning Board of Appeals.

Can the Newburyport City Council come up with the equivalent of the “Wisdom of Solomon?”  Can they do it in one night?? And what will they say, now that they get the chance have to have a say.  It will be really fascinating to watch.

Preservation is in the Business of Saving Communities

Preservation is in the business of saving communites

Preservation is in the business of saving communities

Newburyport preservation quotes:

“There may have been a time when preservation was about saving an old building here and there, but those days are gone. Preservation is in the business of saving communities and the values they embody.”

—Richard Moe, National Trust for Historic Preservation

Newburyport and the Ideological Right – They Deliver

Maybe my hyperventilating over Governor Romney’s running mate (see previous post), Tea Party darling, Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh endorsed, Paul Ryan, has something to do with my first-hand local experience with the “slash and burn,” “take no prisoners,” “malign all opposed” politics of the folks who do not want to preserve Newburyport’s historic assets, the proposed Local Historic District (LHD), led by a member of Newburyport’s very own Tea Party, and I gather fan of the John Birch Society.

On my walk around Newburyport this weekend, I ran into a friend who wanted to know what I thought of the article in the Boston Globe about the progress of Newburyport’s Local Historic District’s (LHD), and the LHD’s slow winding path getting to the Newburyport City Council.  And in the course of our conversation, I said something to the effect that, “People wonder why, at this point, I’m not doing more.” The response was, “Well, you got the shit kicked out of your, everyone knows that.”  For which the person got a hug.

Fox News Opinion on the web has a piece called, “America’s coming civil war – makers vs takers,” predictably the wealthy, the makers, pitted against everyone from seniors, to folks who need help with student loans to go to college.

Our local “Say No to LHD” folks definitely feel like that same strident, militant mindset… heck, it is that same militant mindset.  The LHD, in their minds, equals “social engineering,” yes, this is true (I hate to even link to the actual factual proof, because it gives the John Birch Society such pleasure. How do I know that, because that particular post went viral, via the John Birch Society’s Facebook page – I wish I was kidding).

Yes, and anonymous townies, threatened by “newcomers,” joined in the fray (and townies who no longer live here, or live/visit here periodically).  But it is our own John Birch tea party folks who are still willing, if not proud, to give their names to the cause of stridently and militantly destroying Newburyport’s hope of having a Local Historic District.  (They also, as I understand it, complain loudly to their city councilors, the mayor, the press, when a pro-LHD human being loses it, the person in question, I believe, has been identified.)

Do I have first hand experience with the hatred of the ideological Right?  Yes.  Do I know that they will deliver on their promise?  Yes.  Does that make me worry about Governor Romney’s pick for Vice President, that it isn’t all fluffy talk, that delivery of this far right ideology is very real?  Yes, you betcha.

Newburyport, Demolition on High Street

182 High, courtesy of the City of Newburyport

182 High Street, courtesy of the City of Newburyport

The strange story of 182 High Street.

182 High Street has been lovingly restored by its present owner.  The property contains a beautiful 200+ year old carriage barn, which the owner wanted to restore in 2010.  The owner jumped  through many hoops, as anyone who has done such a thing knows – Zoning Board, Planning Board, Historical Commission,  and just a few feet short of the finishline, withdrew the application to continue the project.

Public record shows that the boards and commissions in the city were enthusiastic about the project.  Public records show that the Planning Board thanked the applicant and their team, noted the applicant’s sensitivity toward the historical nature of the property, the reduction of occupancy level and preservation of historical structures. (January 12, 2010).

In July of 2012, however, the owner chose to demolish the beautiful carriage barn at 182 High Street.  A one year demo delay was imposed.  Head scratching all around.

In January 2010 public record shows that the owner wanted to make every attempt to preserve and rehabilitate all the historical aspects of the carriage barn, and to ensure that it would be in keeping with the restoration that was being done on the Federal Period home.

To do what the homeowner desired from a zoning point of view, requires  something called “public benefit.”  The public benefit in 2010 was, without any question on anyone’s part, including the homeowner’s – historic preservation.

If the carriage barn at 182 High is indeed demolished and a new structure built in its place, the owner would still be required to show “public benefit,” as well as go through all the zoning and planning board hoops.  The attorney for the owner was able to say with a straight face, that the public benefit could be affordable housing.

More head scratching all around.  The stated goal in 2010 was to use the structure as a guest house for visiting family members.  Affordable housing would eliminate that possibility, and affordable housing on High Street?? like having affordable housing on Park Avenue. Happy neighbors?? one wonders.

One of the ironies here is that the significantly historical house in Newbury, the Tappan House, bought for 1.6 million dollars, was demolished for a swimming pool, but the barn was kept to be made into, yup, you got it, a guest house.

The historical write-up of the 1792 home at 182 High Street can be found on the city’s website here.

Home in Newburyport Under Pressure to be Demolished for Profit

284 Water Street, Courtesy of the City of Newburyport

284 Water Street, Courtesy of the City of Newburyport

“The property, built in 1810, is assessed at $810,700, according to city records. It is a Georgian-style residence with nine rooms (four bedrooms) and two fireplaces. Size of the house is 2,723 square feet, and the structure has unobstructed views of the inlet across Water Street. Several smaller buildings are also on the property…

Abutters at the commission meeting suggested that an owner could get that much or more if owners tore it down, and offered a clear lot to a buyer who might build a larger structure.

The application requests a permit for “demolition of a single-family home, garage, barn and shed…”

“Newburyport’s equivalent of the Tappan House tear-down in Newbury.” – a reference to a significant historic home in Newbury that was bought for 1.6 million dollars and demolished to build a pool (information about the former Tappan House can be read here).

The entire story in the Newburyport Daily News can be read here.

The photo of 284 Water Street is courtesy of the City of Newburyport, and the photo and historic write-up of the home can be read here.

Current photos of the property can be seen here.

And a YouTube video of 284 Water Street can be seen here.

Newburyport Under Pressure to Develop Real Estate for Profit

56 High Street, Courtesy of the City of Newburyport

56 High Street, Courtesy of the City of Newburyport

“Sure, we can still have homeowner’s rights and the proposed LHD provides for this. But more than ever before, the City of Newburyport is under pressure to develop real estate for profit, not just for its people and the quality of life. This city has become a destination specifically because of its historical support for preservation, not despite its history.”

Peter Erickson, Newburyport Daily News, Viewpoint can be read here

Peter Erickson is a former chair of the Newburyport Historic Commission and has lived on High Street for 24 years. Peter Erickson’s family home on High Street. Photo courtesy of the City of Newburyport which can be seen with the entire write-up about the property here (photo was taken in 1980).

Citizens for Historic Newburyport to Take Down “Yes! LHD” Signs

This is a press release from Citizens for Historic Newburyport

Citizens for Historic Newburyport (CHN) thank Mayor Donna Holaday for speaking in support of a Local Historic District (LHD) at last night’s public hearing, and take to heart her appeal for all lawn signs and banners to be removed as the proposal moves to the Newburyport City Council.

LHD Yes! signs were made available by CHN last March at the request of residents upset by the appearance of signs installed earlier by opponents of historic district protections.  Within days of becoming available, more than 200 LHD YES! signs were displayed by residents throughout the city.

“We think we’ve made our point,” said Jared Eigerman on behalf of CHN. “Proponents of an LHD are steadfast in their support of sensible, mainstream legislation to protect Newburyport’s historic character. Our 11 City Councillors will now take up the issue, and people of all views can contact them directly and at hearings going forward. Lawn signs won’t aid those deliberations.”

CHN volunteers have already begun to remove LHD Yes! signs in a process which should be completed by the end of the weekend.

Newburyport’s Local Historic District (LHD) Public Hearing

Public Hearing on the Newburyport’s proposed Local Historic District (LHD),

Thursday June 21, 2012, at 7PM

Newburyport High School Auditorium (not City Hall)

This is the legally required hearing, the one where people, for, against and I’m not sure, get to make a statement about the LHD proposal.

There have been lots of changes to Newburyport’s proposed Local Historic District (LHD), and no it’s not “lipstick on a pig” the way some folks have described it.

The LHD Study Committee has listened to the community, and those who may be totally against anything, well, nothing would make them happy.  But, those who would like to find a “common ground” and are willing to compromise, boy or boy, the LHD Study Committee has listened to you!

For more information see previous post here.

Newburyport Daily News article can be read here.

You can also go to the City’s website for detailed information and updates here.

(And this was not decided by the election on June 5,  2012, that was the school projects and the Senior Center, all 3 projects passed.  The proposed LHD will be voted on by the Newburyport City Council.  After the public hearing, there are several legal steps the proposal will go through before it gets to the Newburyport City Council, and then it will go into “Committee” for deliberation, and then finally come out of  ”Committee” for a vote.  The proposed LHD ordinance needs at super majority vote, 8 out of the 11 Newburyport City Councilors to pass.)

Public Hearing on Newburyport’s Proposed Local Historic District (LHD) and Updated Information.

There will be a Public Hearing (this is the legally required one) on the Newburyport’s proposed Local Historic District (LHD),Thursday June 21, 2012, at 7PM at the Newburyport High School Auditorium (not City Hall).

Below is the summary of the LHD Ordinance and the LHD Ordinance updates (3rd draft, now officially called the “Preliminary Report”).  Press images to enlarge.

LHD Ordinance Summary, page 1 (press image to enlarge)

LHD Ordinance Summary, page 1 (Press image to enlarge)

LHD Ordinance Summary, Page 1, Excluded Items and Reviewable Items  (Press image to enlarge)

LHD Ordinance Summary, page 2 (Press image to enlarge)

LHD Ordinance Summary, page 2 (Press image to enlarge)

LHD Ordinance Summary, Page 2, Additional Changes (Press image to enlarge)

The PDF version can be read here:  2012-public-hearing-lhd-ordinance-summary2

Or you can read the PDF version on the City of Newburyport’s website here.

Map of Newburyport's proposed Local Historic District (LHD), Press to enlarge

Map of Newburyport's proposed Local Historic District (LHD), Press to enlarge

This is the map of the proposed Newburyport Local Historic District (Press to enlarge). It can also be seen on the City’s website here.

Complete information on the updates on Newburyport’s proposed Local Historic District (LHD) can be read on the City’s website here.