EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

March 14, 2014

Emerald Pines given conditional approval

METHUEN — The 140-home Emerald Pines development off Howe Street looks like it is “ready to go,” according to the chairman of the city’s planning board.

The Community Development Board, as the planning board is known, on Wednesday gave conditional approval for a special permit for the project which has been long stalled, changed hands, and reinvented in the last decade.

A few residents voiced concerns at the meeting about traffic and replanting trees cut down by the last owner.

Emerald Pines, proposed by the national Pennsylvania-based developer Toll Brothers, faces another crucial vote on Thursday before the Conservation Commission, which is the one of the last local hurdles to clear.

“From our aspect, they’re ready to go,” said Community Development Board Chairman Stephen DeFeo.

His board reviews proposals to make sure they follow state law and local ordinances and regulations. It also grants special permits. One is required for Emerald Pines because while the plan calls for 140 single-family detached homes they all are on a single lot rather than 140 individual lots, meaning it technically is a multi-family development.

Community Development director William Buckley said the conditions on approval include that the development remain 55-plus housing, that it will be privately owned and maintained by a homeowner or condo association and that city will not maintain roads or trash removal, along with typical conditions like final review and bonding.

Should the Conservation Commission approve the plans next week, the project must get water and wetlands permits from the Department of Environmental Protection, the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act Office and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

DeFeo said Toll Brothers has been responsive in addressing issues before the board, and in past projects, most notably the Regency development off Wheeler Street on the Dracut border, the developer has been proactive in notifying the city about and addressing problems.

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