By Paul Tennant
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — The clock is winding down and the Zoning Board of Appeals must soon make a decision on the plan to build nearly 200 apartments on Berry Street.
Initially, North Andover Holdings LLC planned to construct 240 homes in five buildings on a site used for many years by the Berry Street Riding Academy. The developer, however, has reduced the number of apartments to 196.
Instead of five buildings, the revised plan calls for four. North Andover Holdings has applied for a permit to build the apartments under Chapter 40B, the state’s “anti-snob zoning” law.
This law exempts the developer from local zoning regulations provided that at least 25 percent of the residences are set aside for tenants earning below-average incomes.
North Andover Holdings, led by local resident Eric Loth, filed its application to build the apartments in January. Since then, the proposal has faced numerous hearings before the Zoning Board of Appeals. Nearby residents have been fighting against the apartments and organized the Berry Street Neighborhood Association.
Jeffrey Moon, president of the association, said he and other members of the group have met with Loth a number of times in an attempt to reach some sort of compromise. While Loth agreed to reduce the number of apartments, Moon said he and other members of the Berry Street Neighborhood Association are not satisfied.
“It still does not go far enough,” he said. Some neighbors could have accepted as many as 162 apartments, he said.
Building nearly 200 apartments on Berry Street “is not appropriate for the neighborhood,” Moon said. He noted that Berry Street is a winding, rural road and that there is not enough room for two cars to pass each other in some sections of it.
Asked when the Zoning Board of Appeals might be ready to make a decision, Ellen McIntyre, who has presided over the hearings on the proposal, said, “It’s up to them (North Andover Holdings LLC). The ball is in their court.”
When the developer has presented all of its information, it will then be up to the board to render a decision, she explained. The Zoning Board of Appeals will hold its next meeting on the Berry Street apartments Dec. 10.
Loth told The Eagle-Tribune that at that time, he will ask the board to close the public hearing process. The board will then have 40 days to make a decision, he said.
Loth said he and other members of his development team have worked hard to accommodate the neighbors.
“They’re really is nothing else we can give away,” he said, noting that two buildings have been reduced from four to three stories. Loth said he is confident the completed project will be “something everybody can be proud of.”