EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 27, 2013

State adviser aids board reviewing housing project

By Paul Tennant
ptennant@eagletribune.com

---- — NORTH ANDOVER — The Zoning Board of Appeals will have considerable help during its review of a proposal to build 240 apartments on Berry Street.

Because 60 of these homes — 25 percent — will be rented to people earning below-average incomes, the developer is exempt from local zoning regulations such as minimum lot size. Chapter 40B, the state “anti-snob zoning” law, provides this exemption.

Ellen McIntyre, acting chairwoman of the Zoning Board of Appeals, said last night the state Department of Communities and Development has provided the town with a $10,000 grant to hire an adviser to assist the board as it reviews the plans submitted by the developer, North Andover Holdings LLC.

McIntyre said the town has hired Edith Netter as its adviser for this project. Netter has experience dealing with Chapter 40B issues, she said.

McIntyre also said the town will send out a request for proposals to hire a consultant who will provide peer review of the developer’s plans. McIntyre will be chairing the Zoning Board of Appeals while it considers the developer’s application. Albert Manzi III, the chairman of the board, has recused himself from the proceedings. Manzi is an attorney.

The board began a hearing on the proposal Jan. 24. About 50 residents of Berry Street and other nearby roads said they fear the apartments will bring too much traffic to their neighborhood. Others said the area has a high water table.

While the board met last night, it did not continue the hearing on North Andover Holdings’ plan. The board wants to have a peer review consultant hired before going any further with the process, McIntyre explained.

Several of the people affiliated with the developer attended last night’s meeting, including Eric Loth, director of the Bowdoin Capital Group; John O’Connor of the Dolben Co.; and Karen Pollastrino. Louis Minicucci, a local real estate developer who is also affiliated with North Andover Holdings LLC, was not present.

“We have listened to their concerns,” Loth said when asked about the issues raised by neighbors at the Jan. 24 hearing. Noting that both he and Minicucci are North Andover residents, Loth said he wants to build housing that he “can be proud of.”

Kevin Hocker, of Campbell Road, told The Eagle-Tribune he wants to make sure the developer does not encroach on a historic cemetery that’s near the site of the proposed apartments. He estimated the cemetery has about 40 graves, including the final resting places of veterans of the French and Indian War, the American Revolution and the Civil War.

The Zoning Board of Appeals will continue the hearing April 4. It will take place at Town Hall.