In 1999 MassHighway almost destroyed High Street (see earlier post here).
I am beyond thrilled. The Newburyport Local Historic District (LHD) Study Committee has voted to include wording in the proposed draft ordinance to protect High Street, the actual roadway, if a federal or state grant funding project, to take care of High Street, ever triggers “major alterations,” the way it did in 1999. It took an exhausting city wide effort, to stop MassHighway from destroying High Street back in 1999, which would have effected everyone’s property values, especially the houses on High Street. We as a city would never have to go through what we went through in 1999!!
Here is the draft wording that would go in the draft of the proposed LHD ordinance:
Draft language for section of Newburyport Historic District Ordinance
6 – COMMISSION POWERS AND DUTIES
6.7: If a “Major Alteration” is proposed for the public way of High Street, the Commission shall provide design review, consultation, and recommendations during the planning, preliminary design, final design, and construction stages. While the Commission will not have the authority to grant or deny a permit for such a project, any municipal or state proponent of such a Major Alteration project is required to notify and work with the Commission from the earliest planning stages of the project. “Major Alterations” are defined as changes to the curb-line, width, and alignment of High Street; the removal of ten or more street trees as part of a single project unless they are designated as hazard trees by the Tree Warden; the removal of a hundred or more linear feet of brick sidewalk and replacement with another material as part of a single project; and the installation of ten or more new signs as part of a single project, and other such alterations of similar magnitude and impact. Paving, striping, utility work within the existing road footprint, sidewalk repair, re-setting curbs in existing alignment, incremental signage alterations, street tree pruning, and other such maintenance and alterations are not defined as “Major Alterations” and will not require the level of consultation and review anticipated by this ordinance. The purpose of such review, consultation, and monitoring by the Commission will be to broadly maintain and restore the distinctive historic character and alignment of High Street while balancing contemporary vehicular, pedestrian, and bicycle transportation and safety needs as well as universal access requirements.