By Paul Tennant
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — The Zoning Board of Appeals voted unanimously last night to close the yearlong hearing process on a proposal to build 196 apartments on Berry Street.
The board now has 40 days to render a decision on the project, which was filed under Chapter 40B, the state law that exempts developers from most zoning regulations if at least 25 percent of the homes they intend to build are set aside for tenants earning below-average incomes.
As has been the case since last January, when the first hearing on the project was held, last night’s session was packed with residents who oppose the addition of a large number of apartments to their neighborhood of single-family homes.
Board members indicated they are likely to restrict further development on the site — if in fact they approve the project. Attorney Ted Regnante, who represents North Andover Holdings, the development group headed by local resident Eric Loth, said his client might be willing to agree to such a restriction, provided the neighbors don’t appeal an approval of the apartments.
Jeffrey Moon, president of the Berry Street Neighborhood Association, has said the group will appeal if the Zoning Board of Appeals approves the project.
Initially, North Andover Holdings proposed building 240 apartments. A few months ago, the applicant reduced the number to 196. The latest plan calls for four buildings, one with 64 units, one with 48 and two with 42 units each.
The buildings with the larger numbers of apartments would have four stories, while the others would have three stories.
“I have a problem with 196 units,” board member Allan Cuscia said. He also voiced displeasure with the appearance of the apartment houses. “It looks like something out of the Bronx.”
The plan includes 321 parking spaces, many of which would be located under the apartment buildings.