EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

August 14, 2013

Selectmen waive fees for veterans' High Street homes

NORTH ANDOVER — The selectmen voted unanimously Monday night to waive the building permit and special permit fees for three homes for veterans that are planned for 138 High St.

“We’re moving ahead,” John Ratka, executive director of the Veterans Northeast Outreach Center, told the selectmen. Ratka said his agency recently completed the purchase of the property, the premises have undergone a substantial cleaning and the asbestos in the house has been removed.

Residents have already commented on “how much cleaner” the property is, he said, and he indicated renovation will begin soon.

The Veterans Northeast Outreach Center, which owns and manages several homes for veterans in Haverhill, plans to add a third apartment to the 2-family house on High Street. The agency had considered tearing down the house and building a new structure, but Ratka said renovation is now the likely course of action.

The fee for a building permit is $12 per $1,000 of construction, while the special permit fee is $125. Ratka said the money that will be saved by the waiver of the fees will be put “right back into the project.” Ratka’s agency will need to obtain a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals to expand the house from two to three apartments.

The May 21 annual Town Meeting voted to spend $461,894 from the Community Preservation Fund for this project. Earlier this year, the North Andover Veterans Housing Task Force, a subcommittee of the Patriotic Observance Committee, decided to help local veterans and their families who are struggling to keep up with rent and other expenses.

Veterans Services Officer Ed Mitchell said a few weeks before the Town Meeting that he knew of 14 local veterans who needed a place to live.

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