As you know, there has been a lot of pressure from ‘unseen’ special interests who didn’t want this ordinance put back in. A homeowner with deep pockets took the city to land court over the Lot Width Ordinance. The judge voided out the ordinance over a technicality but made a clear statement that all the city had to do was remove some inconsistencies and the lot width measure could be easily put back in force. Then the whisperers began to be heard and the simple fix didn’t happen.
The Planning Board was told to not even bring the subject up.
But thanks to concerned citizens who watched with horror at the development at the corner of High & Woodland, the calls and letters have had a steady drumbeat affect at City Hall.
The Planning Board and the Planning Director were able to create an easy to understand ordinance with clear diagrams so costly uncertainties would be avoided.
The Planning & Development Committee did a fine job of vetting the issues and tonight was the result.
This is why I get so aggravated at the _____ __ ___ ___. All you have to do is care a little and some good things can happen!
The only lone objection tonight was Councilor Jones who, when all was said and done, was actually railing against zoning.
In a sense he was right. Back when Newburyport was a bustling mill town, no one was thinking of a pretty historic seaport. So they took zoning that was more appropriate for suburbia and instituted it upon the city. I guess they figured that eventually old Newburyport would go away and a nicely zoned urban center would replace it.
As it stands now, 70% of homes in the Newburyport Historic District are in violation of zoning. It’s a wonder that Ed Ramsdell and his ZBA team are not overrun to exhaustion whenever homeowners and developers are forced to come before them. And it is costly. It requires hiring architects and consultants and contractors and who ever else wants to jump on the splurging money, bandwagon to get past our boards and commissions.
One of the benefits when the local historic district is expanded is the removal of guesswork. The guidelines will save homeowners and developers huge savings by removing the uncertainty. The less time they have to ‘guess’ what pleases the Planning Board and other commissions; the more money is jingling in their pockets.
This night was a real win for Newburyport. Thank you City Councilors.