We have a nervous bunch out there. The hot breath of history is making them sweat and they are desperately looking for someway to be against the local historic district ordinance and yet be for historic preservation. This way, they reason; the public record will not be so harsh.
So to save themselves, they are demanding rule changes. First, the cry, “Why don’t we have the ordinance put on the ballot and we can vote for it?” Sorry. There is a particular process by which a zoning change (That is all it is) is to be made. Contrary to their hysteria, it is mandated by law (M.G.L. 40C). We are all well aware with the recent Storey Avenue zoning change – it is all in the city council’s control. The process is heavily structured by the State House.
But we’ve got some nervous city councilors who don’t want to go down in history as destroying the very thing that has given Newburyport its affluence and its rise from the ashes. Now, they say; let’s have a zoning rule and create a design board. Or, establish some limited restrictions on the houses. Ridiculous. Then we’ll end up with a non-state regulated board that makes any LHD commission look like kindergartners! Talk about no control and no limit to their reach! I much rather have a state monitored LHD commission any day that is limited by the ordinance rules.
Sorry everyone. The course was set the day Mayor Moak appointed the Local Historic District Study Committee. The City Councilors are going to go down in history as either being visionless politicians influenced by the loudest screamers or dynamic leaders that secured our future and set us on a strong foundation for future affluence and a high quality of life.
Remember, economics are at stake. Our quality of life is at stake. It will be 11 men and women who decide and only 11 men and women. (I doubt the Mayor will use the veto.)
History will judge in the books either way this vote takes but we’ll really start to feel it in our pocket books if they fail to pass the local historic district ordinance*.
If we fail to act in the spirit of Garrison, Parker and others on the issue of historic preservation, the brilliant legacy of our past may fade like the ephemeral twilight of a winter’s day.
-Kevin W. Lawless, attorney and real estate broker, “A walking tour of Newburyport’s legacies”, in the Daily News, 2007
* Once word gets out we have no design review restrictions – Oy Vey!