Little Foxes Spoil the Grapes

No Lot Width Ordinance 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.        Side view 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.       

No Lot Width Requirement 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.


-P. Preservationist




About P. Preservationist

Dedicated to the Enrichment & Preservation of Newburyport
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6 Responses to Little Foxes Spoil the Grapes

  1. Ari Herzog says:

    People frequently ask me why I voted a particular way. I frequently respond with curiosity and ask why they didn’t approach me before I voted. I can only support people if I know how they feel. I used to ask questions on every pending vote but then people told me they didn’t need to be asked every time, because they know how to reach me when warranted.

    Now, which ordinance are you referring? There are several involving lot widths.

  2. It is clear that it was struck down from Section VI.

    Has any Lot Width Ordinance been presented to the City Council for consideration?

    I would think the City Clerk may have the inside scoop if such an ordinance never made it to the Council’s packet.

    • Ari Herzog says:

      I tend to remember ordinances in the committee I chair more than from other committees, but considering the last amendment to Section VI occurred May 10, 2010 it was quick research through my agenda files to find what you’re talking about.

      Short story is the Planning Board met on April 7, 2010 and voted to amend dimensional controls of the zoning ordinance. Their recommendation was placed on the council’s April 26 agenda and referred to the planning and development committee; which met with the PB on June 17.

      A second recommendation was placed on the council’s June 28 agenda to consider further amendments. This remains in committee.

  3. So, the question is (I see it under the Planning & Development, Line Item 4),

    Who is holding this up from being issued out of committee? Derrivan, Jones, or Connell and/or a combination of them?

    And why?

  4. My, my – what good timing!!!

    The Planning & Development Committee is meeting in the City Hall Auditorium at 6:00 on Wednesday. I’ll saunter by the City Clerk and Planning Office too to find out what details there are.

    I don’t know why they are meeting but it will be a good time to ask why this is lanquishing in committee since 2010.

  5. Port Sanity says:

    What is the lot width ordinance, and what would you like to see implemented?

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