What is going on at 16 Eagle Street is an excellent example of why we need this new Amendment to Section 9 or the “Infill Ordinance.”
The owners of 16 Eagle Street, which is an 1850 dwelling, bought the property I believe 3 years ago. As far as they knew it was a deeded 2 family. As I understand it, the third floor was an apartment.
They applied and received a building permit to construct an attached unit that, as I understand it, would be 35 feet by 22 feet, technically two and a half stories, but apparently the plans show straight dormers, making the house look more like a 3 story structure. From what I understand the square footage would be slightly over 2000 square feet.
The neighbors feel very strongly that the house does not fit in, in regards to scale and mass, with the local neighborhood character.
To make things even more complicated, the property is owned by Jamie Pennington, who is a member of the Newburyport Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA.)
The hearing tomorrow night, in front of the Newburyport Zoning Board of Appeals, is to request that the building go no further (at the moment I believe the foundation is poured) and that the building permit be revoked.
At issue, apparently, is whether or not 16 Eagle Street is a legal 2 family. It is my understanding that a variance was never applied for when it was expanded in 1986. It is possible that the statue of limitations for challenging the lack of a variance for this property has run out.
It is complicated.
What is not complicated however, is that we need this new amendment to the zoning ordinance Section 9. As is stands now, a legal two family, with a small apartment, can build a large attached structure that is completely out of scale with the existing neighborhood character.
This is and has happened all over town. 16 Eagle Street is yet one more example of how this loophole has been taken advantage of.
If the Zoning Amendment to Section 9 or the “Infill Ordinance” existed, the neighbors and the City would have been informed of the new large addition and a dialogue would have taken place.
Hopefully a win-win situation would have come about.
As it stands now, this is a lose-lose proposition. Mr. Pennington has stopped construction. The neighbors are faced with the possibility of a large infill project. There are lots of bad feelings all around. And no matter how the ZBA rules tomorrow, it would be my guess that the case, because it is so complicated and the project is so far a long, would go to court.
What a mess.
I would urge everyone to contact their City Councilor and urge them to vote for the Amendment to Section 9 or the “Infill Ordinance.”
There will be a joint public hearing with the Planning Board and the Newburyport City Council. And then this issue will come before the Newburyport City Council for two readings. On the second reading there will be a deciding vote.
The Newburyport City Council hopes to vote on the Infill issue either in November or December of this year.
It is very unclear to me whether this Infill issue has the votes to pass.
I would also urge everyone who cares about this issue to get a Save Our Town bumper sticker and put it on their car, on their door, in their window.
Unless something like this happens in a person’s backyard, people do not appear to be aware of what an acute problem the City of Newburyport, MA is facing.