There is a danger that focusing on this one building owner will allow others in the region to get away with their infractions. This is the worst incident but the travesty is occurring all around us. If Newbury had a demolition delay ordinance, some consideration could have been made before Rolfe’s Lane’s Harbor School buildings had come down. The whole feel and charm of the Ocean Avenue/Rolfe’s Lane has changed forever. Instead of the wonderful New England charm while heading toward Joppa Flats, we will get a housing development and more of our history will be gone. Those Harbor Schools could have been the happy recipient of adaptive re-use. Zoning accommodations could have still allowed new construction without the loss of character and a loss for the neighborhood. But ancient Newbury does not have a delay, any historic preservation ordinances, and no CPA program. They have also drunk the tea that yet another house built in rural Newbury will translate into more taxes. Instead, the demand for more expensive infrastructure has doomed them to teeter on the financial precipice. Much has to be done in the town to save it from the inevitable state of suburban sprawl!
Then we have a negligent building department in Newburyport. They allow an exploratory permit to be misused to strip a house down to its bare frames on Pine Street without penalizing the developer. They take no action even though a house’s windowless structure is now exposed to the winter elements on Hancock Street. They deliberately stay mum as homeowners and developers are totally unaware they are exempt from strict building codes in the Newburyport Historic District. This whole area is ripe for demolition. Much in Newburyport has to be done to save it from the doom of a dark future!
And while we work to correct these evils, the Tappan House stands as a symbol of what political inaction will get us!
January 26th, 2012