EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

November 28, 2012

Affordable housing project nearing approval

Construction would add 224 apartments to town

ANDOVER — An affordable housing project bringing 224 new apartments to Lowell Street is one meeting away from getting the biggest approval needed to move forward.

The Zoning Board of Appeals is expected to approve the project with conditions at its next meeting, scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 8 at 11 a.m.

The project, "Andover Apartments at Rolling Green," was first presented to the Zoning Board on Oct. 6, 2011. After continuing the project's public hearing 15 times since then, the board was slated to give it approval at a meeting Tuesday.

The need to clean up planning documents and tweak decision language pushed the hearing and a final decision out to one more meeting. With that meeting just over a week away, Mark Johnson, an attorney representing the project's developers, said he's glad it is on the precipice of Zoning Board approval.

"We're all happy. A lot of work has gone into this," Johnson said.

The project features 224 apartments distributed throughout two, four-story buildings, broken down into 134 one-bedroom units, 70 two-bedroom units and 20 three-bedroom units.

A total of 56 apartments will be "affordable units" restricted to household incomes that are at least 20 percent lower than the area median income.

The project will also have 182 parking spaces in garages underneath the two buildings and 195 outdoor parking spaces. It will be built on 20.1 acres of land.

Getting Zoning Board approval for the project has not been easy. Since it was first approved, meetings have addressed a variety of concerns, including traffic impacts, water and sewer needs, how the project would affect area schools and more.

The project was first presented alongside a competing 288-unit, four-building development on Shattuck Road. That project was rejected by the Zoning Board in September, and an appeal from the project's developer is expected.

On the road to approving Rolling Green, the Zoning Board's decision has built up 30 pages of conditions, findings and more to move the project forward with minimal local impact.

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