EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

July 1, 2013

Regional plan balances need for development, preservation in Merrimack Valley


The areas will not be permanently protected, but are considered “worthy of increased levels of protection through planning, regulation or acquisition,” according to a press release issued by the Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development, which developed the regional plan in concert with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, the MVPC and local and regional stakeholders.

The plan was developed based on the MVPC’s Priority Growth Strategy Report, which was drawn up in 2009. DiZoglio said that report identified 56 “concentrated development centers,” which the state then refined.

The 13 priority development areas all have local support, good access, strong water, sewer and transportation infrastructure, and an absence of environment constraints, according to the state.

Many of the projects will be targeted for expedited local permitting. Others could become part of the state’s Smart Growth Zoning program, which promotes high-density housing and mixed-use development near transit stations.

In instances of downtown development, DiZoglio said planners often target areas near public transportation, along with first-floor commercial development and residential development on higher floors.

“It’s allowing for retail (and) it’s allowing for housing,” said DiZoglio. “It’s that mix of uses.”

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