I really like what Councilor Eigerman set into motion with the zoning measure, the Downtown Overlay District. Though not as effective as a local historic district; it does set out some standards of conduct and required building practices when dealing with the commercial district. Coupled with the restoration of the downtown sign standards; the damage that was eating away at our most treasured Market Square Historic District; has largely been halted and in fact, things may actually be improving.
It doesn’t mean those with evil intent won’t challenge it – but hey, at least the vast majority of decent, law-abiding business owners and citizens can use the DOD to help enhance the downtown for the cultural and financial benefit of all. All those who care about our city just need to be aware of the precepts and be alert for the occasional threat.
On the contrary, we’ve got a knock-down, dragged out fight when it comes to protecting the Newburyport Historic District. It is covered by the zoning measure, “Demolition Control Overlay District“. Instead of guidelines and precepts, though it claims its intent is to prevent demolitions; but largely all it does is outline how to do a demolition of an historic building. All a developer has to do is get the building inspector, the Historical Commission, the ZBA and the willing average Newburyporter to be TOTALLY, BLISSFULLY, IGNORANT and it’s an easy trip to the bank to do some house-flipping financing.
And if anyone can see from the Legal Notices and the activity in the Planning Office, the word has gotten out all over New England:
NEWBURYPORTERS ARE A BUNCH OF SAPS*!
Personally, I take offense at being labeled this, and I’m not happy that it’s being attributed to my neighbors, to our Mayor and to our local city council and to our Planning Office. (though there are some who are willing to take the offense on the chin and it has to do with money.)
I will be laying out in the next few posts** what is necessary to be known to allow for the DCOD to actually slow down and even stop demolitions. These are not going to be editorials in the strictest sense. I will document with as much facts as I can muster so each citizen has at least the basics down. And hopefully, once you’ve got it, we (you included) can do something about it.
* I wouldn’t look up the synonyms for sap. It won’t make you happy.
** I will occasionally interrupt this train of thought for other interesting topics or pressing issues.