I believe April 7th was an unfortunate day for future of our City. When I arrived at the Planning Office that Friday morning to sign some letters I saw Nick Cracknell just after he had been told by the Mayor that he would not be reappointed. Although I kind of expected this from the Mayor based on his apparent commitment to those who supported his campaign, I had hoped that maybe reason would have prevailed and he would have reappointed Nick. Recognizing the knowledge and expertise that Nick provides and the City’s many pending development plans you would think the Mayor could have managed to have resolved whatever differences remained. But that was not the case. Some folks, mostly developers I assume, will applaud this decision but I believe the Mayor has done the people of Newburyport a great disservice. He’s removed a dedicated and visionary leader of a progressive Planning Office who only had our City’s best interest in mind. When I had questioned Nick about his future plans he said he had not seriously considered them to date. I guess he felt that whatever problem Mayor Moak had with him might have been resolved during his three month trial period. On Friday morning Nick’s only concern that he expressed to me was the impact this might have on his staff, and how to best transition the significant workload to his successor, whoever that might be.
Some people I’ve been told felt Nick had too great an influence on the Planning Board and its decisions. If that’s true it’s only because the Planning Board and Nick Cracknell had shared a common purpose; to insure that proposed applications that come before our Board comply with city zoning and our rules and regulations and are consistent with the intent of the City’s Master Plan; and to ensure that all zoning amendments we might draft and propose to the City Council are based upon recommendations of the Master Plan, Best Practices and public comment. Only then do we represent the City’s best interest. The Planning Board will continue to follow that purpose. Mayor Moak may have goals that are more directed at faster execution and preserving private property rights. These are reasonable and honorable objectives but must be considered within the context of delivering a quality product. In that regard we will continue to work with applicants to achieve an outcome that benefits not just the applicant but also the City and fulfills our obligation to preserve the historic and natural character of its neighborhoods. As a voluntary and independent Board we are very willing to work with any Mayor and his or her administration. However, this Board, like Mr. Cracknell, will not sacrifice its integrity or its obligation to act in the best interest of the community.
Doug Locy, Newburyport
(Editor’s note: Doug Locy is the Chair of the Newburyport Planning Board. It is a great honor for the Newburyport Political Blog to have a post by Mr. Locy. I extend my own admiration and gratitude to the Newburyport Planning Board for its integrity and diligent hard work, and hope that the people of Newburyport, Massachusetts will do everything they can to support it.)