There is a lot of grumbling going on in the City and it has to do with the development at High & Woodland. People are shocked that such buildings would be allowed in Newburyport that has had zoning restrictions from the mid-twentieth century. Something that you would see in the old South End is now being built right before their eyes on the prestigious High Street and IT IS BEING DONE BY RIGHT.
As the Bible says, “Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes. (Song of Solomon 2:15); the look and feel of Newburyport is a very fragile thing. It makes our City beautiful. But all it takes is a tiny thing to undo the development restrictions and the whole thing we call BEAUTIFUL becomes a thing of the past.
Communities all across the nation have tried to stop thoughtless development and often they have to fight an uphill battle to prevent the destruction of their towns and cities.
So what was this ‘little fox’ that resulted in the cramming of buildings on High Street?
A single court case brought by Mark Griffin on behalf of a landowner with waterfront property. He won the case by appealing the Lot Width Ordinance as established by the City. The Land Court voided the ordinance due to a technicality (Which can be easily corrected.) I don’t fault Mr. Griffin and I don’t fault the property owner. Once the correction would be in place, a new and valid Lot Width Ordinance would be put before the City Council and easily passed.
As the court says,
“Because “lot width minimum” is not a listed criterion in the dimensional requirements section of the Ordinance, this court is not persuaded that Locus is subject to such requirement. 11 As such, I find that, as applied to Locus, “lot width minimum” is not a dimensional requirement under the Ordinance.
This court was unable to locate (and neither party claimed) that the term “lot width minimum” was even used in Section VI. The City can easily address this omission, if it chooses, by amending the Ordinance to integrate a “lot width minimum” requirement as part of Section VI.
Here is the rub. THE CITY COUNCIL WON’T DO IT!
Influenced by private developers and a local financial institution, the city councilors have indicated they will refuse to allow the lot width ordinance to be corrected and if brought before a subcommittee, it will die there.
Now, here is the irony. Most times the City Councilors have been doing a bang-up job. But in this case, as more and more people are finding, that a few private developers and our local banks are now listened to more than the citizens. This is outrageous in its inappropriateness. This would be similar to the likes of Wal-Mart overruling the wishes of the community.
People read my posts and often debate with me on the claim that I make that a small group of people are conspiring to destroy the jewel we have as a City. If ever there was an example of this, it is the effort to block a correction of this vital ordinance.
Everyone who cares how Newburyport looks and feels needs to right to your ward councilor and the councilors at large and tell them to stop listening to private exploiters and start doing their job of representing the community.
WE NEED THE LOT WIDTH ORDINANCE RE-INSTITUTED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!