EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

December 10, 2012

School impact comes up in Town Yard talk

ANDOVER — With the Town Meeting warrant closing in a month, officials are working quickly to determine what the Town Yard site on Lewis Street could become if the facility moved elsewhere.

A Town Meeting warrant article is expected to present a zoning option to residents that would change three acres of town-owned land currently used as the Town Yard into some form of residential, commercial or mixed use zoning.

A meeting between the Board of Selectmen and Planning Board yesterday raised many possibilities for what the land could look like if fully developed into something other than the Town Yard. The discussion was fueled by Kenneth Buckland, principal with The Cecil Group, a planning firm charged with presenting zoning alternatives for the site.

But an overriding concern for the boards is how redevelopment would impact local schools, some of which are considered overcrowded without additional residential growth, according to Selectman Mary Lyman.

Selectmen Chairman Paul Salafia characterized the rezoning process as a three-way balancing act.

“We want to get as much value from the land [as possible], but we’re balancing it against the impact to the community. The third balancing act is if you make it so restricted, a developer won’t build it,” Salafia said. “[Residential] density will be important to any builder, but not great for the impact to the town unless we restrict it as such so it won’t bring a lot of kids into the schools.”

Some officials called attention to Windsor Green, a nearly 200-unit apartment community on Lowell Street. While the project was projected to generate around 38 students, the project today houses 101 school-aged kids, according to Selectman Alex Vispoli.

One option, as suggested by Salafia, is to build a 100-percent commercial development that has no homes. Members of the meeting disagreed with the idea, however, on the grounds that developers wouldn’t want to build it and the commercial space wouldn’t draw enough people to it with the Main Street part of downtown being so convenient already.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Merrimack Valley

Eagle-Tribune News Videos
Photos of the Week