The New Signage Ordinance for the Downtown

People who are anti-LHD keep stating that there is no need for historic preservation protections and the City has done just fine without it.        Unfortunately, this statement is made from ignorance.   

One of the tremendous benefits from having a local historic district is the economic ripple affect for a community.       In other words, you could have a house on the other side of Route 95 near Turkey Hill Road and receive the same economic benefit from being in Newburyport as if you lived just off State Street.       This is well-documented across the country and has been codified by not only the Commonwealth of Massachusetts but by the IRS.      They note the benefits and keep a close-eye on communities where LHD’s are located.

We have already experienced the ripple affect from having exterior protections on our downtown.       As stated by the NRA Design Review Book in 1995 (Before the NRA canceled its effects in 2005),

“In 1965 the City of Newburyport undertook the Central Business District Urban Renewal Project – the first in the country to use urban renewal funds for preservation – to restore its Federal era downtown marketplace buildings.     The Urban Renewal Plan contains mandatory design standards [my italics and boldface type] applying to both redeveloped buildings and those buildings retained by their owners.    One of the important reasons the downtown restoration and renewal have continued to be so successful so many years later is because owners have worked diligently over the years since the redevelopment to maintain and enhance this buildings.      As we come to the completion of the 40-year Urban Renewal Plan, it will be important for Newburyport – whether through the NRA or another city agency – to continue to keep the standards high so that we preserve the accomplishments in our downtown.”    

Just like an LHD, the ENTIRE city has benefited and now the entire Region and the State look to Newburyport as an economic leader.

The NRA sustained the Sign Book after 2005 and handed over its responsibilities to the City this winter with the new zoning change.       The old signage book indicates:


According to Dianne Eppa, Gary Calderwood wrote this new sign application.    He has taken it upon himself to completely remove design review from the new signage rules.       This means a single person, the Building Inspector, who has a history of disregarding and discounting historic preservation gets the final say.         This gives owners including Newburyport Development, a free hand to do whatever they want as long as it follows the same rules that apply to any signage in town AS IF THE RULES APPLY DOWNTOWN THE SAME AS STOREY AVENUE OR THE TRAFFIC CIRCLE.

The City Council has been bamboozled into thinking the NRA’s responsibilities over design review would continue under the City’s management.

NOT SO!      Here is the new application for signage.      IT IS COMPLETELY DEVOID OF DESIGN REVIEW.

It is crucial that the local historic district ordinance be instituted to cover the Downtown.


-P. Preservationist

About P. Preservationist

Dedicated to the Enrichment & Preservation of Newburyport
This entry was posted in Downtown, Heritage Tourism, History, Planning, Preservation, Zoning. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s