There is nothing more frustrating than to hear a major news piece and then the entire event or subject just drops off the radar screen.
“What on earth happened?”
The Newburyport Current a few years ago, devoted an entire issue to that question on news stories that made you wonder, “What was the end result?’” It was very gratifying to read as Paul Harvey used to say, “The rest of the story”.
Well, let me fill you in on some developments:
First, on Wednesday, the Planning Board with great reluctance; approved the Oleo Woods Development at the end of the Russell Terrace Extension. The developers, who have an excellent reputation for community well-being and caring for the environment, wanted to do a 25-house project on a relatively small acreage and then devote 37.5 acres of forested uplands and wetlands to a conservation restriction. The real sticking point was Lot 10 that originally through a previous developer would be left untouched. Springwell Investments, LLC wanted to now develop it but they had to prove concrete benefits for the community. They did so by showing that a comprehensive new sewer lift station would be made that not only would take care of their units but would take care of the many houses north of them. They in effect, showed that a lift station that had to be replaced by the city anyway would by far save the cash-strapped municipality hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The Planning Board recognized the benefit and included extra trees to buffer the wetlands AND between the houses and the Little River Bike Path. An extra amount of trees would be put on city land between Lot 10 and the bike path. As a result, a large swath of nature would be spared from flood-producing impervious surfaces all the way to the abandoned Crow Lane. Essex Greenbelt would enforce and monitor this easement.
Second, things have basically become stagnant on the Blackwell Property that is landlocked from Crow Lane to up against the Cooper North Conservation Land. Negotiations are still continuing in the hope of obtaining this beautiful section that has some of the finest trees in the City. But not there yet – still there is no danger of this land being developed so it remains safely opened.
This brings up the important work of the Essex County Greenbelt Association. They are noted for obtaining conservation easements for donated open space. What most people fail to understand that their mission is not just keeping areas undeveloped but to create GREENBELTS in which wildlife can safely travel without encountering human roadblocks. As for their real goal, they have a long way to go. And in Newburyport, we also have a way to go to make sure the Common Pasture is contiguous. There are still areas needed to be obtained to make sure the area is whole and not segmented. This way, we have expanses of wetlands that can soak up flood waters, preserve our wildlife and give us open space views that enhance our quality of life.
Third, the Local Historic District Study Committee has come close to finalizing their push to establish the LHD ordinance. Since the Essex National Heritage Byway is now established along High Street which is already a state heritage byway and there is tremendous pressure from developers to reap the enhanced value of this street; the focus will be to establish (along with the commercial downtown) an LHD from Atkinson Common to the Newbury border. Public Hearings will soon be established and the host of self-centered abutters and homeowners will be screaming bloody murder not realizing they would in affect destroy the opportunity for secure property values into the future.
All of us need to read up on the Study Committee’s website and be ready to appear and speak not only at the Public Hearings but at City Council meetings also. In the last election, a super majority of them were in favor of a local historic district – it looks like it will be that way again in November so now is the time to push hard for it. It needs to be in place so we can be preserved like Nantucket when it in the past faced the onslaught of New England Development.
Well, that’s enough for now to chew on!