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April 20, 2010

Zoning change would allow commercial use of land

HAVERHILL — The City Council will consider two requests aimed at spurring economic development on private land at tonight's meeting.

Annette Zerveles is asking the council to change the zoning on land she owns at 1247 Main St. from residential to commercial/highway property. The change would allow anything from a restaurant, bar, retail store or professional offices to be built on the vacant land, City Solicitor William Cox said. Some other allowable uses in a commercial/highway zone include a bed-and-breakfast inn and a tennis or swim club.

City Council President Michael Hart said information provided by a lawyer representing Zerveles does not say what future use of the property is being considered. The material also does not provide information about the size of the land in question, Hart said.

The land is midway between Merrill Street and Cushing Avenue, just south of the American Legion Farm.

Hart said the council will refer the matter to the Planning Board to hold a public hearing at which neighbors can comment. The Planning Board will then make a recommendation to the council, which is expected to vote on the zoning change June 15, Hart said.

Also tomorrow, the council will consider a request from B. Richard Rogers and Elizabeth Rogers of 133 Neck Road to sell a small piece of land on their Ward Hill farm to a neighbor for an industrial or commercial use, according to a letter to the council. The Rogers family once owned most of the land that makes up the Ward Hill Business Park, which is next to the farm.

In 1988, the Rogers family placed an agricultural preservation restriction on the 448-square-foot piece of land they now want to sell. The restriction allowed the family to receive tax breaks on the land, which is part of a larger 10.8-acre parcel. As a condition of the tax-break program, the property must be offered for sale to the city before it may be sold privately. The council must turn down its right to buy the land before the owners can sell it.

Information provided the council shows the Rogers family has a deal to sell the parcel for $10,000. Hart said the city cannot afford to buy the land. He said he does not know who the land will be sold to or what it will be used for.

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