A little history.
In 1970 Newburyport, MA, except for a few places here and there, was in really, really bad shape. All those pictures of how downtown looked before Urban Renewal…it wasn’t good.
Even when I moved here in 1981 (I think I’ve blogged about this a little before) downtown had just been restored. The Tannery did not exist, neither did Maudslay State Park. Urban Renewal had just begun to have a ripple effect into the surrounding neighborhoods of the North and South End.
There were places in the South End that I didn’t want to venture into. One person has told me that when they bought a place in the South End they could not get a mortgage from one of the banks because it was literally on the wrong side of the tracks. This is not to say anything bad about whatever bank it would have been; this is to remind folks that not too long ago a lot of Newburyport, MA was in tough shape.
Survival was the name of the game. A lot of folks had a hard time believing that anyone would want to live in Newburyport, MA, much less build an “infill” project in the North and South Ends of town.
When I moved here there were lots of places with apartments. It is my understanding that one family homes had apartments to help pay the bills. It was about survival.
And I am wondering how many of those apartments, like the one on Eagle Street, were given a building permit but never went through the process of getting a variance. I’m guessing that in their wildest imagination many people would never have envisioned that anyone would want to build a large out of scale “infill” structure in their back yard. The idea would have seemed preposterous.
I am guessing that what the neighbors found out about 16 Eagle Street, even though it had a building permit, but that a variance was never given for the upstairs apartment, may well apply to many places in Newburyport, MA.
And if that could be the case, then that opens up a whole can of worms.
And once again, if the “Infill Ordinance” or the Amendment to Section 9 was in existence, all parties would have had a chance to have an open dialogue before anything was done, and this whole fiasco concerning 16 Eagle Street might have been avoided.
If this is an issue that you care about, please contact your Newburyport City Councilor and ask them to vote in favor of the “Infill Ordinance” or the Amendment to Section 9. Also, please write a letter to the editor in support of this zoning amendment. All of this would really help.