EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


July 9, 2013

Neighbors seek deal to drop hotel suit

Settlement talks over sewer hook-ups scheduled today

HAVERHILL — A group of neighbors suing the city over a proposed upscale hotel near Northern Essex Community College are meeting today with lawyers for the developers in an attempt to win concessions to allow the project to go forward.

City Council approved the 60-room Lexington by Vantage hotel in February and the local developers said they planned to begin construction this summer. The developers said they hoped to open this fall, although that timetable seems unlikely now due to the lawsuit.

The 3.6-acre site is on Amesbury Road (Route 110), near Interstate 495's exit 52 in the eastern section of the city. It is just east of the highway interchange on Route 110, behind a Dunkin Donuts and the Mobil gas station at 401 Amesbury Road.

Eight neighbors of the property, including George and Andrew Wickson, who are the administrators of the estate that owns the gas station, sued the council and the developers to stop the project.

In May, a Land Court judge ordered the plaintiffs to provide more information by June 5 about their claim and what kind of relief they were seeking from the court. The plaintiffs missed the deadline.

But late last month an attorney for the plaintiffs, Rory Gill of the firm UrbanVillage Legal of Boston, asked the court for another chance.

"After some miscommunications among my clients and I, there was some uncertainty on whether and how to proceed with the case and settlement negotiations," Gill said in a letter to Land Court Judge Robert Foster. "The problem has been rectified ... After conferring with opposing counsel, mediation of the parties has been scheduled for July 9 with time reserved for continued discussions July 12."

Gill declined comment when reached at his office yesterday.

The amended complaint indicated the neighbors are looking for a written agreement that the developers will provide them with free access to a city sewer line the developers are bringing to the area to accommodate the hotel.

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