EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 31, 2012

Developer seeks to overturn 40B project denial

By Jonathan Phelps jphelps@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — ANDOVER — The developer of a proposed 248-unit 40B affordable housing complex on Shattuck Road is challenging the Zoning Board of Appeals’ decision last month to reject the project saying the development is “consistent with local needs.”

Hanover R.S. Limited partnership, based in Quincy, has filed an appeal with the Housing Appeals Committee.

The Zoning Board voted to reject a comprehensive permit for the project 5-0 after about a 10 month public hearing process on the project.

The proposal called for four residential buildings that would each be four stories tall. The buildings would have been wedged between industrial properties in the area, which prompted opposition from several area businesses.

Member David Brown said before voting against the project that it would go against town planning efforts that span decades to make that part of town an attractive industrial area for major employers.

Board member Rachel Baime agreed, saying this was not the right lot for the 248-unit apartment complex.

Throughout the permit process many issues were brought up in opposition to the project including the lack of open space on the property for residents, noise generated from existing industrial buildings and a sewer system that would need major upgrades.

The multiple page appeal, prepared by attorney Kevin O’Flaherty, mentioned the town does not meet minimum standards for low and moderate housing.

O’Flaherty mentioned the town’s 2004 Community Development which encourages the introduction of affordable housing developments in this industrial zoned area. He also mentioned Casco Crossing, a 96-unit 40B project approved by the board.

“The fact that the ZBA approved the Casco Crossing project is further evidence that locating multi-family developments in the Industrial D zoning district is consistent with town planning documents,” O’Flarherty said.

He said any planning concerns should have been brought to the attention before expensive analysis of traffic, drainage and the sewer system.

“The fact the planning issue was raised at the 11th hour by abutters/opponent is evidence that the issue was not, in fact, a legitimate concern and was not a basis for the ZBA to deny the application,” O’Flarherty wrote.

O”Flaherty mentioned that Town Counsel Tom Urbelis sent a memorandum to board before its decision saying the project was consistent with the planning documents.

He also noted concerns of dust, noise and vibration is “incompatible” with planning and these issues were not raised with Casco Crossing.

This was one of two controversial 40B affordable housing projects that the zoning board members have been reviewing. Both projects have been controversial among residents, who claim the projects will cause traffic problems, wetland issues and overcrowding at area schools.

A proposed development on Lowell Street would be behind the existing Windsor Green apartment complex, which has 191 units. The revised plan calls for 134 one-bedroom apartments — 70 two-bedroom and 20 three-bedroom.

The board will further discuss the Lowell Street project Thursday night starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Memorial Hall Library.