EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 31, 2012

City Council again rejects housing plan near Kenoza Lake

Proposal headed back to Land Court; lawsuit possible

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

---- — HAVERHILL — For the second time in as many years, City Council rejected John Giordano’s proposal to build a single-family home and garage across from the city’s main water supply.

Giordano needs approval from the council because his 4-acre property at 90 Amesbury Road is within 500 feet of the Kenoza Lake reservoir.

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 court ruling said the council should not have rejected the plan without first receiving a recommendation from the city’s Conservation Commission. The judge in the case gave the council until Nov. 2 to hold a hearing and issue a new decision.

The Conservation Commission reviewed the plan this month and recommended approval with 20 conditions — including prohibiting the use of a septic system on the four-acre property — prior to last night’s meeting.

The commission endorsed the project only after an expert hired by Giordano testified that neither ground water nor surface water from the property could reach the reservoir. The expert said water from Giordano’s land, in most instances, flows away from the reservoir and toward nearby Tilton Swamp.

Councilors, citing concerns of city water officials, said they are not convinced the development would not pose a risk to the reservoir. They approved the commission’s conditions and added a few of their own, but rejected the special permit, 6-3.

Voting against it were councilors John Michitson, William Ryan, Michael McGonagle, William Macek, Colin LePage and Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien. Voting in favor were councilors Tom Sullivan, Michael Hart and President Robert Scatamacchia.

After the vote, Giordano said he will appeal the council’s denial to Land Court and that he is considering a separate lawsuit against the city for illegally denying him his right to develop his land. He said he has been trying to develop the property for more than five years.

“The city has made me jump through every possible hoop,” Giordano said. “They watch everything I do on my land, but there have been numerous cases of illegal dumping on my property and they do nothing about that.”

According to city tax records, Giordano bought the property in 2006 for $7,500. But he said he has spent about $150,000 in legal fees and other expenses trying to develop it.

If he prevails, Giordano said he intends live in the home he wants to build. His proposal also includes a second smaller building that Giordano said he would likely use as a garage. He also said he may keep a horse on the property.