EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

April 11, 2013

Andover voters asked to rezone Franciscan Center

ANDOVER — A zoning proposal coming to Town Meeting aims to foster town-guided senior living development on a tract of land in western Andover.

The Senior Residential Community Overlay District (SRCOD) — article 26 for the guidelines, article 27 for the map modification — would add zoning options to a 113-acre parcel of land off of River Road.

The area is currently occupied by open space and the Franciscan Center.

If approved at Town Meeting, the zoning would add another layer of development opportunities to the site. The new option would become the preferred method of build-out because of its accelerated development process and ease to get approved, according to Paul Materazzo, Planning director.

The proposal was designed by the Franciscan Overlay Task Force. The committee of town residents and officials was created after Wingate Healthcare, with a facility on Andover Street, expressed interest in buying the land from the Franciscans and converting it to elderly housing in 2011.

Wingate eventually withdrew its interest in the site, but the task force’s work kept moving forward since elderly housing was identified as a need by the town two decades ago, according to Charlie Kendrick, task force chairman.

After seeing Wingate’s prior interest in the property and hearing rumblings that the Franciscans were looking to sell the land, town officials launched into developing the SRCOD district plan, according to Kendrick.

An attorney representing the Franciscans declined to comment on the zoning proposal.

The zoning responds to a general need for elderly housing that is facing an unprecedented level of stress, according to Kendrick.

A number of factors — rising property values, an aging population that is staying put instead of migrating after retirement, stagnant income levels and more — are “conspiring to put more pressure on the master plan,” Kendrick said. “It is harder to provide housing for people on modest incomes (here) than other parts of the country.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Merrimack Valley

Eagle-Tribune News Videos
Photos of the Week