By Paul Tennant
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — Neighbors continued to press their opposition to a plan to build 240 apartments on Berry Street last night.
Many of them complained the homes will be too densely situated, with five four-story buildings spaced fairly close together.
“It’s like putting a gigantic square peg into a tiny round hole,” said Zoltan Poleretzky, of 46 Oxbow Circle.
North Andover Holdings LLC, headed by local resident Eric Loth, has applied for a permit to build the homes under Chapter 40B, the state’s anti-snob zoning law. Because 25 percent of the apartments will be set aside for tenants earning below-average incomes, the developer is exempt from most zoning regulations, including lot size requirements.
Several neighbors told the Zoning Board of Appeals the proposed location of the apartments is too close to wetlands and warned too much runoff will flow into them. Matthew Bombaci, a civil engineer with GPR, said the drainage system he designed, which includes two infiltration beds and a bioretention area, will provide a “high level of treatment.”
Bombaci said swales will keep water from flowing onto Berry Street, a narrow rural road that Loth has indicated he’s willing to widen.
The proposed apartments would be built near Route 114, already a much-traveled state highway. Jeffrey Moon, of 141 Berry St., said he and other members of the Berry Street Neighborhood Association want “to prevent inappropriate development of this land.” He pointed out there are already other apartment complexes in the area as well as an assisted living center on the other side of Route 114.
Moon also said the site is in a flood plain and that the soil is not adequate for such a large project.
The residents of this part of town get their drinking water from wells. Thomas Perry, of 303 Berry St., said he’s worried about the impact of the project on ground water.
Lisa Eggleston, an engineer who does peer review of development projects for the town, said her “primary concern” is the discharge of runoff into the wetlands. She also said the plans do not include a place to put snow that’s been plowed.
“The wetlands will require monitoring,” Eggleston said.
“How do we make sure that’s done?” asked Zoning Board of Appeals member Allan Cuscia.
Eggleston said that’s the job of the Conservation Commission. Conservation Administrator Jennifer Hughes said the commission will include maintenance of the wetlands in its order of conditions.
Loth said his firm is investing $40 million in the project and does not intend to build 240 apartments only to see the grounds get flooded. The buildings will be professionally managed and tenants will not be subject to a “mom and pop landlord,” he said.
Loth said he is willing to talk to neighbors about their concerns. After the hearing, he, Moon and Richard Mazzocchi, of 15 Stonewedge Circle, also a member of the Berry Street Neighborhood Association, were conversing amicably.