EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

January 16, 2013

Officials pitch new zoning for Town Yard site

Public hearings scheduled for February

ANDOVER — The Town Yard zoning pitch to go before voters at Annual Town Meeting is nearly complete, and officials are one step away from opening the door to public comment.

Voters at last year’s Annual Town Meeting rejected a plan to rebuild Andover’s Town Yard by 31 votes. With officials recently settling on relocating the facility off of Lewis Street, the Board of Selectmen and Planning Board have been putting a zoning proposal together to re-develop the existing Town Yard site.

Through that proposal, the town could open the doors to new development not currently allowed should the site become vacant.

The zoning would create an Andover Transit Oriented Development District (ATODD), named from the transit-oriented development that is hallmark to the plan. Transit-oriented development often relies on nearby transportation hubs like train stations, one of which exists on neighboring Railroad Street.

The district is limited to land around what officials have referred to as the “Golden Triangle,” formed by North Main, Pearson and Railroad streets. The three-acre Town Yard, on Lewis Street, sits at the center of that triangle.

Under the proposal, “design guidelines become more flexible,” Kenneth Buckland, principal of The Cecil Group and a designer on the project, said. “They don’t become something that can stop a project. What we want them to do is encourage good design and look for good design.”

The ATODD permit, issued as a special permit by the Planning Board, would control the size, congestion and scope of projects seeking to build around and within the existing Town Yard.

As part of the permitting process, developers have to present plans addressing how the development would perform under tight congestion, according to Buckland.

“The parking, the loading, the traffic, the pedestrian circulation, the egress points, the circulation outside of the property as well as the interior to the property, are all addressed in the plan,” Buckland said.

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