The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) voted to continue the application regarding the Mint until March 14th.
Nick Cracknell (Newburyport’s Planning Director) outlined a “last minute” overture by the Historical Society that he felt was of some significance. He outlined various conditions that he wished to impose on the property owner, Jim Lagoulis. He stated quite directly that the issues presented by the property were the most complicated he had seen in his 14 years working in Amesbury and Newburyport.
On the positive side, the recognition that imposing on-site parking for 5 or 6 units (I forget how many units the owner wishes to crowd into the buildings) was not an attractive option for the ZBA. This would entail the destruction of 5 antique shrubs (mostly rhododendrons) as well as additional black-topping. Sanity reigns.
On the negative side, three direct abutters continued their objections, along the usual lines of parking and density. There appears to be a lot of mutual mistrust.
My feeling is that the Mint has a 50/50 chance of making it. By that I mean:
1) The apartments need to get approved by the ZBA.
2) The Historical Society will step up to the plate with vigor. (I have communicated to the Historical Society and to anyone else who would listen, that there is a viable path to pursue.)
If these two steps were accomplished, the process could be speeded up and, I think, brought to a successful resolution.
The deliberate and “baby-step” approach of the Historical Society seems to me to be excessive.
I am not a member of the Historical Society, however, if any reader of this blog is a member, and wants to get involved, there is plenty of information available. Certainly there is plenty of information from me.
Jim Roy, Newburyport
(Editors note: “The Mint” which has also been referred to as the “Perkins Building” is on Fruit Street right below the Historical Society, also known as the Cushing House Museum)