I was reading the last installment of the Port & Preservation series in the Daily News and the reporter was talking about the worrying concern by many that a self-appointed extremist would get on the Local Historic District Commission and cause utter hell for businesses, developers and homeowners. Thankfully, much of that danger is prevented by the rather ‘loose’ but persistent guidelines that would be established. It is in the best interests of the commission to work with property owners so that the building is renovated in a short period of time and that legal costs on both sides are minimized. That’s called good governance using diplomacy and mutual respect.
But there is always the possibility of someone inappropriate getting on the Commission.
So I looked up what they were talking about:
The Massachusetts General Law 40C, Section 4 has actually stated the following recommendations: (The Mayor is the originator of names for the City Council to review and approve.)
“…shall consist of not less than three nor more than seven members appointed in a city by the mayor, subject to confirmation by the city council…including one member from two nominees submitted by the local historical society or, in the absence thereof, by the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities [Historic New England], one member from two nominees submitted by the chapter of the American Institute of Architects covering the area, and one member from two nominees of the board of realtors, if any, covering the area.”
In fact, the LHD Study Committee is supposed to be setup in similar fashion. We’ve had on our already existing LHDSC appointed by Mayors Moak & Holaday: architects, attorneys, a former Planning Board Chair, local citizens, realtors, a member of the Historical Commission, a current ZBA chair, and a former president of the Preservation Trust who currently works for the local historical society.
Of course, the object is to attain experienced, reasonable people who will provide a proper balance and exercise good judgment.
Personally, I think this whole ‘self-appointed’ extremist moniker is a mean-spirited stab at people like me! Which is not very nice!
Of course, I have come out of nowhere, have no professional qualifications and have self-appointed myself an authority on all things concerning Newburyport on such sensitive issues as conservation, historic preservation, infrastructure and of all things, the waterfront.
No matter, my views are tempered by facts, figures and historical and on-the-ground evidence.*
And besides, I have no intention of submitting my name for the new Local Historic District Commission!
* if you can do better, I would love for you to start a blog!