EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 15, 2012

Protecting the water supply

Haverhill scrutinizes plan for home near reservoir

By Shawn Regan sregan@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — HAVERHILL — It's all about the water.

So say some city officials and a longtime Haverhill businessman, who are concerned about a proposal to build a home — and possibly more — near the city's main water supply.

The plan to build a home on Amesbury Road across the street from Kenoza Lake reservoir will be back in front of City Council tomorrow, despite the fact councilors rejected it last year.

John Giordano needs special approval from the council because his property of nearly four acres at 90 Amesbury Road is within 500 feet of the lake.

City officials said Giordano has told them he wants to build a single-family home there, but that in the past he has also talked about other uses for the property, including a horse stable or fruit-and-vegetable stand.

Haverhill resident King Davis said he has been watching Giordano's proposal for some time and will attend the council's meeting to speak against it.

"My interest in this is solely my desire to see the city's drinking water supply protected," said Davis, a longtime Haverhill resident and local real estate agent.

The council denied Giordano's application for a special permit in August 2011, but a Land Court judge recently ordered the city to reconsider the proposal. The ruling said the council should not have made a decision without first receiving a recommendation from the city's Conservation Commission. The ruling also requires the council to consider testimony from Giordano's "expert" before making a new decision.

The council has until Nov. 2 to hold a hearing and issue a new decision, according to the court ruling.

Councilor William Macek, who attended the Conservation Commission's meeting on the plan Oct. 4, characterized Giordano's proposal as "incomplete."

"He provided information that appears to show surface water from his property isn't a threat to the reservoir, but he provided no information about subsurface conditions, and that's still a concern," Macek said, noting that Giordano's property abuts Tilton Swamp and other wetland areas.

In fact, the commission voted 7-0 to report to the council that Giordano "has not supplied a sufficiently complete package of materials to properly review this project."

"Most notably, the applicant has not submitted a present-day hydrological analysis identifying the direction of groundwater flow during assumed drought conditions in Kenoza Lake," the commission's report said, in part. "The commission does not feel this project can be appropriately conditioned for approval at this time."

Although Giordano has said he intends to build a residential structure if he receives a permit, he is not bound to use his land for that purpose. Macek said that's another concern.

"If this goes forward, I'd like to see any approval conditioned on the land being used only for a single-family home," Macek said. "No livestock, no farming."