Newburyport, Special Permits

One of the things I like about blogging the Newburyport Political Blog is that I get to learn about a whole lot of stuff. Take this Special Permit thing. (See all sorts of earlier posts on “Special Permits.”) Who would have ever guessed that I would care about, much less be interested in a Special Permit? Come on, who cares? Special Permits?

Well, now I actually care about Special Permits of all things. Who knew?

Frankly, I thought if you wanted to build something and had to get a “Special Permit,” well, that was the “kiss of death.” Why bother even trying? Why bother going in front of all those scary boards and stuff. Why not just skip the whole thing?

What I’ve learned is those “boards” aren’t actually so scary. The Newburyport Planning Board (that’s where you go and get that Special Permit) isn’t made up of a bunch of zealots who will tear your head off if you go in front of them. No, the Newburyport Planning Board is made up of some very thoughtful, fair human beings (I might even go as far as saying as some of them might just be downright kind.) They are just regular folks who give an incredible amount of time and energy to the community and are not power hungry, control freaks.

Three of the members of the Newburyport Planning Board have actually sent in posts to the Newburyport Political Blog. And if you use the search box on the side of the blog, you can find them. (Put in “Newburyport Planning Board member.”)

One of the interesting tidbits I’ve learned about a Special Permit is that just because a Special Permit is granted, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it has been used.

Someone might get a Special Permit and then not use it right away. How about that one for weird?

For example, it is my understanding that no application has been formally filed for the Zoning Overlay for the Towle Property (see earlier post.) And this was a major Special Permit. This Special Permit for a Zoning Overlay was so special that it had to be passed by the Newburyport City Council. And they passed it too. Happily, no less.

So, this could mean that someone else could come in and buy that property and not use that Special Permit for the Towle Zoning Overlay at all.

Wow. I thought that one was really interesting.

Mary Eaton, Newburyport