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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.


The first hurdle for the project is a zoning change. Roughly 120 mostly-undeveloped acres off Pine Tree Drive must be rezoned from rural residential to a multi-family residence district before the permitting process can move forward.

If a zoning change is granted, Toll Brothers will also need a special permit before construction can begin.

“We’ll be before your board on several occasions ... before we can put a shovel in the ground,” Copani told Community Development Board Chairman Stephen DeFeo.

Copani said Toll Brothers is “the largest builder of luxury homes in the country.” The outfit is also currently building Regency at Methuen, a 240-unit gated community on Wheeler Street, off Route 110 near Dracut.

Copani said the Emerald Pines development will “essentially duplicate” the Regency project, though all the homes off Howe Street will be single-family and spaced further apart. The Emerald Pines project will also not be gated.

A Toll Brothers representative told Councilor Joyce Campagnone last night that homes like those being built at the Regency sell for $450,000 to $500,000, and that the Emerald Pines homes have the potential to sell for more.

Copani said the Emerald Pines development will generate “substantial” revenue for the city in the form of property taxes and permitting fees, and will be far less of a burden on city services than a typical development of its size.

“There’s no impact on the school system,” said Copani.

Copani said the 55-to-64 age group is also growing in Methuen. “There’s a real need for this type of housing,” said Copani.

The roughly 120-acre parcel where the 140 homes will be constructed will include 83 acres of open space, according to the formal petition. The proposal also calls for permanent open space restrictions on 34 acres adjacent to the development.

Toll Brothers took ownership of the property earlier this year.

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