Newburyport, MA, Planning Director

Since the subject of who might or might not be the planning director of Newburyport, MA has now become a possible campaign issue, the planning director of Newburyport, MA might be worth “chatting” about.

Yes, I do not think that Nancy Colbert, the Planning Director of Newburyport, MA is flamboyantly pro-active. This is not necessarily a bad thing.

Nick Cracknell always struck me as a whirling dervish, and my guess is that he would chafe under direction or supervision of any mayor.

I think Nancy Colbert understands why Newburyport is of value and what would be in the best interest for the entirety of the city of Newburyport, MA. And my sense is that Ms Colbert sees her job as implementing the perspective of officials elected by the residences of the city of Newburyport, MA.

I also think that she would try very hard not to let anything happen to the city of Newburyport, MA that would have a long term, damaging effect.

I could not see Ms Colbert starting an initiative and then communicating to the mayor and city council what was going on. I could, however, see that she might guide elected officials towards a certain direction.

There are two things that have happened during her second tenure here with the city of Newburyport, MA that I am very grateful for.

The Local Historic District Study Committee. Nancy Colbert is an historic preservationist. This works for me. And we have a mayor who I have always had the impression, would lean more towards a “property rights” point of view, and yet Mayor John Moak has taken the first step of appointing a Local Historic District Study Committee.

Now Nancy Colbert has not said “boo” to me on any interactions she might or might not have had with Mayor John Moak, however, I cannot imagine that she did not have something to do with directing this first part of an exploration of a Local Historic District.

And there is the issue of the discussion concerning the possibility of having an ordinance guiding the scope of chain stores in downtown Newburyport, MA.

This is an excerpt from an email that came from “Buy Local,” “”

“After that meeting (a public meeting held by the Planning and Development subcommittee of the City Council), the chair, James Shanley spoke with the Chamber and some key business owners and has determined that the issue needs broader participation and more indepth investigation than his committee can handle. He, along with Planning Director Nancy Colbert, is pursuing the concept of setting up Study Circles ( as a means of engaging the whole community on this very important issue.”

It seems to me that having “Study Circles” for a possible chain store ordinance would be a similar approach to a “Study Committee” for a possible Local Historic District.

Both are about public process, and both are thorough and almost “appeal proof” if you will, and would gather a great deal of information from the populace of Newburyport, MA about what may be two very controversial subject matters–an ordinance guiding the scope of chain stores downtown and the possibility of a Local Historic District for Newburyport, MA.

Mary Eaton