Reconsidering Last Night’s Zoning Vote

Zoning changes require a two-thirds vote of city councilors, and so last night’s vote of 6-5 regarding changing Storey Avenue’s designation from residential to business failed to muster enough affirmative votes to pass.

For background reading, check out P.Preservationist’s perspective and the Daily News’ summary about the zoning vote.

My rationale for voting the ordinance down stemmed from meeting with Clipper Way residents and Atria Merrimack Place residents during the recent campaign season, who, despite not being direct abutters, are peripheral abutters who are naturally concerned about increased traffic if a proposed CVS pharmacy is built at the corner of Storey and Low.

That said, I’m open to discussing the issue further — and voting on the prevailing side, I filed this morning a notice to reconsider my vote.

What this means is the next council meeting of November 28 will include this ordinance again in the agenda.

My intent is to offer the ordinance proponents a second chance to respond to all of the questions that were raised last night about traffic, light cycles, and spot zoning. Maybe it will be voted on the 28th, or maybe it will be referred to a committee for more deliberation. Time will tell.

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  1. Ted Jones says

    Ari. On Tuesday I said to my wife that is the smartest vote the city council has taken in a long time. They actually turned down a proposal from a developer for ANOTHER CVS. I was very disappointed to read on Wednesday that you initiated a vote to reconsider the same proposal. I did vote for you, as you seem to be a voice of moderation in this development crazed city. It made so much sense to vote against a commercial proposal on Storey Ave., one of the worse traffic intersections in the city or the state. After listening to residents in the Clipper City/ Woodman Way neighborhood, it seemed like you realized that we do not need more development along this stretch of Storey Ave. Especially a high volume retail store such as CVS. I was quite surprised that the city council would advance such a proposal for a store we really don’t have any need for that will make this area more susceptible to increased traffic and accidents. I would hope that the council would not be convinced to approve this terrible plan just so we can add 20 more acres of open space to our inventory. Developers often offer incentives such as open space or green space when they hope city boards will take the bait. If the land behind Storey Ave. had substantial economic value the developers would be trying to develop it. Please forget about any economic inducements and look at the plan they are presenting to the council at face value. You would be exacerbating the traffic nightmare in that section of the city for what? After reconsideration please vote no again. Thank you.

    • Ari Herzog says

      There is no plan being presented to the city council. Pure and simple.

      Councilor Derrivan, in mid-October, had filed legislation to change the zoning. Sometime between then and Monday night, talk of commercial development arose and THAT led to more talk about traffic and light cycles.

      You speak of my voice of moderation, which I thank you for, so let’s reconsider the actual legislation filed, not what-if scenarios for developments of which no paperwork has been filed.

    • Lyndi Lanphear says

      I couldn’t agree with you more. Low and Storey Ave does not need any more traffic jams. CVS couldn’t pick a worse intersection.

  2. Bob uhlig says

    I concur with the other comments. This stretch of rt 113 between I 95 and market basket which was widened probably 10 years ago has since become more recognizable as highway than main street to downtown Newburyport and the intersection with low street has become particularly challenging. while I agree we need to have commercial zoning approving this change will exaserbate the congestion and number of turning movements in the area. Further i would encourage you not to be distracted by the carrot of open space as I concur that if this area was substantially developable it would have been so by now.


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