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July 11, 2013

Fans, critics speak out about potential development in Methuen

Builder agrees to 55+ age restriction on Howe St.

METHUEN — City officials and concerned residents were told last night that a proposed 140-unit development off Howe Street, if approved, will be restricted to home buyers age 55 and older.

The developer, Toll Brothers Inc., initially sought a looser “age-targeted” designation for the project. Toll Brothers hopes to build 140 single-family homes on the site of the failed Emerald Pines golf course near the Haverhill line.

In May, several city councilors said the homes should instead be “age-restricted” to prevent young families from moving in, which in turn would place additional burden on the school system and add to traffic concerns.

But last night, a local lawyer representing Toll Brothers said the developer had a change of heart and will now require that home buyers be 55 or older in order to ease the burden on Methuen’s schools and roads.

“This community will be age-restricted,” lawyer Anthony Copani told the City Council and Community Development Board.

Dozens of residents packed City Hall last night for a public hearing and many expressed their concerns over the project. Chief among them were adding traffic to an already congested part of town, as well as the impact on wildlife in the area.

“Personally, I don’t think we need any more homes in Methuen — especially in that neighborhood,” said Brookdale Avenue resident John Milone.

“This is the second chance for us to do this right,” added Grandview Road resident Michelle Godin. “I really would like to see more preservation done for future generations.”

Toll Brothers is looking to transform the abandoned Emerald Pines golf course project into an “active adult community” featuring the 140 homes as well as a clubhouse, swimming pool and bocce courts.

Road and lighting maintenance and trash removal at the development will be run privately, according to a formal petition for the project on file at City Hall. Toll Brothers also intends to make needed improvements to the land and infrastructure, which in turn will enhance the value of nearby homes, according to the petition.

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