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Merrimack Valley

June 10, 2014

Historical panel OKs demolition of old farmhouse

NORTH ANDOVER — The large, white, nearly two-century-old farmhouse at 16 Berry St., a landmark that has greeted motorists headed west on Route 114 for many years, will be torn down.

The Historical Commission voted unanimously yesterday afternoon to grant a developer permission to demolish the farmhouse, believed to have been built in 1825. The developer, North Andover Holdings LLC, has pledged to replace it with a structure that will look just like it from the outside.

The new building will serve as a clubhouse for the 196 apartments North Andover Holdings plans to construct on Berry Street, according to Eric Loth, director of the firm. Kathleen Szyska, chairwoman of the Historical Commission, said the approval includes several conditions.

First, the agreement needs to be signed by Loth, who was not present at yesterday’s meeting; Curt Bellavance, the town’s director of community development; and the commission members, Szyska said. Second, the signatures must be notarized.

Loth has already shown the commission plans for the clubhouse. Szyska told The Eagle-Tribune she and other commission members are pleased with the proposed replica of the farmhouse.

Loth said renovation of the farmhouse would not be practical because the rooms are too small and the cost of making the building comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act would be excessive. It makes more sense to tear the old farmhouse down and build a replica, he said.

After a series of hearings that lasted more than a year, the Zoning Board of Appeals granted a special permit for the apartments Feb. 25. North Andover Holdings LLC applied for the permit under Chapter 40B, the state’s anti-snob zoning law.

Chapter 40B exempts developers from local zoning regulations if at least 25 percent of the homes they plan to build are set aside for people earning below-average incomes; and if less than 10 percent of the community’s housing is deemed affordable.

North Andover has not yet achieved that 10 percent threshold.

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