EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 14, 2014

Historical Commission ready to defend demolition delay bylaw

By Paul Tennant

---- — NORTH ANDOVER — Members of the Historical Commission are gearing up for a possible fight.

Commission Chairwoman Kathleen Szyska said yesterday she has heard some people in the town may be contemplating a move to repeal the demolition delay bylaw. This measure authorizes the Historical Commission to impose a delay of up to a year on plans to level historic buildings.

The commission voted Sept. 9 to hold up the razing of Bradstreet School at 70 Main St. The school was closed in 2005 and the building, slightly more than a century old, has been vacant ever since. The 2012 annual Town Meeting voted to permit the selectmen to sell the property.

After hearing from several firms, the selectmen chose Hearthstone Realty to buy and redevelop the property. Hearthstone’s plan calls for demolishing Bradstreet School and replacing it with two buildings, one commercial, the other residential.

Town Manager Andrew Maylor said the delay will not affect Hearthstone’s plan.

“I wanted you all to be aware of it (the possible move against the demolition bylaw),” Szyska told her colleagues on the commission yesterday. She and other members should “educate people” about why the bylaw is needed, she said.

Town Meeting adopted the demolition delay bylaw in 2007. The destruction of a historic house on Marbleridge Road prompted the commission to propose the regulation, she said.

The house was constructed in the 19th century and was owned for many years by the Cogswell family, Szyska said. The Cogswells were related to Nicholas Holt, one of the “first 40” settlers in North Andover, she said.

The annual Town Meeting will take place May 20. Should the warrant include an article calling for the repeal of the demolition bylaw, Historical Commission members should be prepared to speak out against the attempt, Szyska said.

“I believe in demolition delay,” she said.