Councilor Andy Vargas spearheaded the proposal to create a city design review board.
Three Haverhill city councilors are asking Mayor James J. Fiorentini to create a city board for the purpose of “protecting historical properties” and have a say on how new development projects “fit within” their neighborhood.
Councilors Tuesday unanimously approved a motion by Councilor Andy Vargas to ask Fiorentini, by letter, “to take the steps necessary” to form a city design review board. The proposal was placed on the agenda by Vargas, along with Councilors William J. Macek and Vice President Melinda E. Barrett. It was also referred to the council’s Planning and Development subcommittee for further review. Vargas briefly explained what function such a board would have.
“Steps taken in the right direction towards protecting some of our historical properties, but also having a look at what types of developments are built and how they fit within the particular neighborhoods they are built in,” Vargas said at the meeting.
The motion was seconded by Macek. Neither he nor Barrett spoke further on the proposal. It comes just three weeks after the council 6 to 2 to defeat an ordinance which would have granted the Haverhill Historic Commission authority to both delay demolition of properties in the historic district and regulate designs of new buildings. At the time only Councilors Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien and Thomas J. Sullivan voted in favor of giving the historic commission new powers. The move cleared the way for plans to sell the Saint Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church building near city hall to a developer for funds to complete construction of a new church in Ward Hill. A retail building with a relocated Domino’s Pizza shop and up to three other stores is proposed in place of the old church.