Newburyport, Enacting Smart Growth

An article in the Boston Globe, July 5, 2007 by Kay Lazar and Matt Carroll, talks about the possible “crowed future” and possible “shrinking space” in the suburban communities north of Boston, MA.

Suburban sprawl, due to lousy zoning laws, is predicted to spread like permanent poison ivy across Massachusetts’ North Shore, unless the principals of “smart growth” are adopted.

The possible loss of some 400 acres in, count ’em, 14 communities.

But you know which community is NOT listed among that august list? Yes, you guessed it, Newburyport, MA.

And why? It is because we had a planning director who was highly focused on “smart growth” for Newburyport, MA. And yes indeedy, we have cluster zoning, the zoning that is “smart” because it does its darnest to preserve “open space” and not have any more sprawl like Cherry Hill, that looks like suburban sprawl in places like Wellesley (no offense Cherry Hill or Wellesley).

And this brings me back again, I guess, to the politics and peccadillo thing.

Our former Planning Director, Nick Cracknell.

Many in Newburyport, MA believe Mr. Cracknell has peccadilloes that sprout up like porcupine quills. I believe our current mayor, Mayor John Moak, said to Mr. Cracknell in a location where all sorts for folks overheard, that Mr. Moak had “contempt” for Mr. Cracknell. (Many of us suspected there for a long time that John Moak seemed to feel Mr. Cracknell was chock full of peccadilloes.)

And anyone who has hung out with Mr. Cracknell for a bit, might see a Cracknellean possible peccadillo springing up here or there.

Ah, but when you have an exceptional planning problem solver, does one overlook those pesky possible peccadilloes?

We would be on that list in the Boston Globe and it would be a list of 15 communities not 14 if it had not been for Mr. Cracknell’s whirling energy and determination that Newburyport, MA change is unfortunate zoning ways.

So in looking back, we could owe Mr. Cracknell quite a bit, as a result of his virtuoso, zoning talent.

This brings me to my blogging quandary. When, political-wise, could political peccadilloes be overruled, excused, condoned?

Maybe when a gifted individual comes along that transcends mediocrity, peccadilloes could be overlooked, just as long as they are just idiosyncratic peccadilloes, for the long term greater good of the community of Newburyport, MA.

Mary Eaton