Special Permits, Newburyport and the Infill Ordinance

There appears to be some confusion about my recent post on “Special Permits.” It is my understanding that some people might feel that I could have been implying that anyone could be granted a Special Permit by the Newburyport Planning Board, no problemo…

Well, that’s not what I was trying to say at all, so let me try and clarify here.

What I had in the back of my mind was the revision of the zoning ordinance that I keep calling the “Infill Ordinance,” that the Newburyport Planning Board is hoping to reintroduce to residents and the Newburyport City Council.

When it was introduce the last time it was not passed by the Newburyport City Council. I am very much in favor of this new revision or the “Infill Ordinance” and I would like to see it get passed by the Newburyport City Council this time around.

Last time, the revision to the ordinance concerned two family houses. Each side was allowed a 550 square foot addition before requiring a special permit.

As I understood it, this was to insure that developers didn’t take advantage of two family homes by building a large addition that was out of scale with the existing home and the neighborhood at large. The project on Water Street is an excellent example.

It was not meant to discourage your average homeowner from a reasonable addition or alteration.

However, I think that a lot of people understood the new amendment to the zoning law to mean that if you wanted to have an addition or alteration that was more than 550 square feet, you were not allowed to do so.

What I was trying to explain in the recent post was that for the average homeowner, who owned a two family house and wanted to build something larger than 550 square feet, that they could still do that. That going in front of the Newburyport Planning Board and discussing a special permit should not discourage people from going ahead with their plans. That the Newburyport Planning Board was very reasonable when it came to reasonable requests and there was no reason for your average resident to be intimidated.

And it is my opinion that he Newburyport Planning Board does not give every developer the “go ahead,” no questions asked — quite to the contrary. I feel that the Newburyport Planning Board is very conscientious when it comes to development in Newburyport, Massachusetts. After all it is the Newburyport Planning Board that has and is still trying to change the existing zoning laws to try and prevent inappropriate development in Newburyport from happening.

Mary Eaton, Newburyport