The new modus operandi of the current Zoning Board of Appeals is very similar to the modus operandi of the past Zoning Board of Appeals: basically, if the applicant is too hot to handle, continue it until the abutters and objectors grow weary and give up.
I wish I could, we as citizens of Newburyport, wish we could and those who are seeing the precious historic neighborhoods being destroyed for pricier housing; we all wish we could get on with enjoying living in this fine city. But just like in the Revolutionary War days, if we remain silent; we become victims with no one else to blame but ourselves.
The issue to night is 15 Howard Street. A small house that would be fine for a single person, a couple with limited income who would love to own in Newburyport; a first time home buyer – able to get into ever pricier Newburyport.
But the applicant wants to tear this house down and put in a much larger home with a much larger mortgage potential and a higher tax leavy that frankly those with limited income can’t afford. The argument is that it is nothing to look at, it’s small – and yet, much of Newburyport’s historic district is smallish with dozens street after street tucked in amongst the huge Federal and Georgian mansions. The applicant continues that it has no history. That one is strictly based on ignorance. That house has a lot of history. We don’t know and most of the houses in the city – we simply don’t know. Their final argument is that it isn’t like the large houses on the street – it should go. Here are their arguments.
But if you drive up and down the streets of the Newburyport Historic District; you will find all over the city, great numbers of tiny homes tucked in between the large mansions.
Basically, their argument is these little houses all have to go so we can have continuity – much like faceless tracts of suburban housing – only their paint color can tell them apart!
This house is a ‘contributing’ building to the entire historic district. That is, the very charm and desirability of the highly valued historic neighborhoods depend on these small houses. It contributes to what makes Newburyport.
If we destroy them, cart them off for bigger, more expensive homes and I might add, more modern homes – then the historic district and I might add, the very desirability of the city is lost forever.
If we allow them to do this, the affluence that we now take for granted; and the high desirability of our city; will be abandoned – we will in about ten years become a ‘used to be’ great city.
Please show up tonight and voice your objection. This house can take an addition and an upgrade but replacing it with a new home is disastrous.
Once it goes, the domino affect will spread throughout the city until most of us will have to move out since only those who love to bang around large homes will be able to afford to live here.
ZBA, 7:00, City Council Chambers – the applicant is the first on the roster.
PS. Speaking of history, the fine work done by Sarah White, Chair of the Newburyport Historical Commission, doing the due diligence of the Historical Commission in submitting a report to the ZBA has this history on the house to relay.