EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

April 3, 2013

Contamination costs deemed low

Officials support rezoning area, developers get idea of its potential

ANDOVER — With fears of on-site contamination subsiding, the Board of Selectmen supported rezoning the Town Yard for mixed-use development. Less than 12 hours later, developers were at the site for a presentation from town officials showing what the Town Yard could become in the decades ahead.

A review of the site commissioned by the selectmen for just over $4,000 revealed that costs for dealing with contamination at the Lewis Street site can go as high as $1 million, but Cooperstown Environmental President James Curtis said he believes that is extremely unlikely.

Of the roughly three acres of land owned by the town, 1.9 acres is restricted in use by an activity use limitation (AUL) because contamination was found at the site over the last couple of decades, according to Curtis.

Some of the contamination stems from underground tanks used to store fuel, including gasoline, that had leaked prior to their removal. This includes an abandoned tank the town didn’t even know existed until finding it in 2004 while doing other work, according to Curtis.

Removing four feet of soil from every bit of land in the AUL-affected area would cost the town around $925,000, according to Curtis.

Other cost estimates Curtis discussed include the following: around $50,000 to $75,000 for testing the site for more contamination; $25,000 to $50,000 for “surgical removal” of 500 to 1,000 tons of known contaminated soil as oppose to widespread removal of dirt; and $25,000 to $75,000 for environmental consulting, Curtis said.

That would make the worst case scenario facing the town $1 million, including the $925,000 for extensive soil removal and up to $75,000 for environmental consulting. During his presentation, Curtis said the costs would be more likely to reach the $100,000 mark, but even that may be a bit high.

For the past year, the Board of Selectmen and Planning Board have been building a rezoning proposal for the site, now known as the Andover Transit Oriented Development District. The plan aims to add more development options at the site and has been viewed by some as a referendum to relocate the Town Yard off-site if approved. The proposal makes up two articles — one for the zoning language, and the other to modify the zoning map — at this year’s Annual Town Meeting, scheduled for May 6-8.

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