EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 12, 2012

Home near Kenoza Lake faces third council vote

Some officials fear project poses risk to water supply

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

---- — HAVERHILL — The third time could the charm for a developer trying to build a home near the city’s main water supply.

Two weeks ago, City Council rejected John Giordano’s proposal to build a single-family home and garage across from the Kenoza Lake reservoir on Amesbury Road.

The council denied Giordano’s application for a special permit for the first time in 2011, but a Land Court judge recently ordered the city to reconsider the proposal. Giordano needs permission from the council because his four-acre property at 90 Amesbury Road is within 500 feet of Kenoza Lake, the city’s main water supply.

At their Oct. 30 meeting, councilors, citing concerns of city water officials, said they are not convinced the development would not pose a risk to the reservoir. They set more than 20 conditions designed to protect the water supply, but then rejected the special permit by a vote of 6-3.

But since then, Councilor Michael Hart said he expects the judge in the Land Court case will overrule the council and give Giordano the permit he needs for the development. Because the council voted against the project, Hart said he is concerned the judge might not impose the conditions set by the council. The conditions were recommended by the city’s Conservation Commission and Water Department.

Hart said the best way to make sure the conditions are part of the permit is for the council to approve the project with the conditions. For that reason, he said Councilor William Ryan, who was on the winning side when the council rejected the project Oct. 30, agreed to call for reconsideration. Only a member of the prevailing side of a vote can call for reconsideration.

The council is expected to vote again, for the third time, tonight.

Councilor William Macek said he will vote no again. Macek said Giordano has continued to prepare his property for development by dumping fill on it, despite the city’s objections.

The Conservation Commission recently endorsed the project, but 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.

After the Oct. 30 vote, Giordano said he intended to appeal the council’s denial to Land Court and that he is also considering a separate lawsuit against the city for illegally denying him the right to develop his land. He said he has been trying to develop the property for more than five years and that the city has fought him “every step of the way.”

According to city tax records, Giordano bought the property in 2006 for $7,500. 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 might keep a horse on the property.